British Prime Minister David Cameron warned of serious consequences on Tuesday, after Iranian student protesters stormed Britain’s embassy in Tehran.
“The attack on the British Embassy in Tehran today was outrageous and indefensible,” Cameron said in a statement quoted by AFP.
He added, “The failure of the Iranian government to defend British staff and property was a disgrace. We hold the Iranian government responsible.
“The Iranian government must recognize that there will be serious consequences for failing to protect our staff. We will consider what these measures should be in the coming days.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian students stormed the British embassy in Iran, tore down the Queen’s picture and burned the British flag.
The students chanted, “Down with Britain”, “Down with America”, “Down with Israel” and “Students are Awake and Hate Britain”. The students raised the Iranian flag in place of the British flag.
The students threw stones at the embassy’s windows as they raided the building. Once inside, they threw firebombs. AFP reported that the protestors also attacked another diplomatic compound in which six British diplomats were staying. They were subsequently freed, unharmed, when police intervened.
Cameron’s comments followed earlier warnings from Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said the assault on the embassy and the other diplomatic compound was a “grave breach” of the Vienna Convention which requires host countries to protect diplomats.
“The United Kingdom takes this irresponsible action extremely seriously,” Hague was quoted as having said. “I spoke to the Iranian foreign minister this afternoon, to protest in the strongest terms about these events and to demand immediate steps to ensure the safety of our staff and of both embassy compounds.”
Hague added that although the Iranian foreign minister had apologized for the incident, “this remains a very serious failure by the Iranian government. Clearly there will be other, further, and serious consequences.”
The attack on the British diplomatic compounds came just several days after the Iranian legislature downgraded Britain’s diplomatic status and gave the British ambassador two weeks to leave the country.
The move by Iran came after Britain joined the United States and Canada to slap tougher sanctions on Iran, in another attempt to force Iran to open up its nuclear facilities for full inspection by United Nations officials.