Iran to force out UK ambassador
IRANIAN MPs chanting "death to England" voted to expel Britain's ambassador to Tehran and threatened his mission with a reprise of the 1979 hostage crisis.
Dominic Chilcott, who took up the position of ambassador just a month ago, could be forced to leave the country within weeks after a motion to downgrade Iran's diplomatic ties with Britain was passed overwhelmingly by the Islamist republic's parliament.
The step was taken after Britain, Canada and America announced fresh sanctions against Iran last week after a report by UN weapons inspectors provided the most compelling case yet that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Britain was singled out, however, after it became the first state to impose direct sanctions on Iran's central bank. Financial institutions in the city were also banned from doing business with their Iranian counterparts.
Despite pressure from Israel, Washington has balked at following suit, arguing that such a step would cause deep financial pain for ordinary Iranians and could cause the price of oil to soar. If its central bank faced widespread international sanctions, Iran would find it virtually impossible to import and export oil, food and other commodities except on the black market.
It is the first time in post-war history that Britain has imposed a total boycott on the entire banking industry of a foreign state.
Iranian MPs were incandescent in their fury. After announcing the motion had been carried by 171 votes to three, Ali Larijani, the speaker, warned that even tougher penalties would be imposed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)