November 29, 2011
The United States has condemned the storming of the British embassy in Iran. Obama’s press secretary issued the following statement:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran. Iran has a responsibility to protect the diplomatic missions present in its country and the personnel stationed at them. We urge Iran to fully respect its international obligations, to condemn the incident, to prosecute the offenders, and to ensure that no further such incidents take place either at the British Embassy or any other mission in Iran. Our State Department is in close contact with the British government and we stand ready to support our allies at this difficult time.
Iran has reportedly reacted to the storming of the embassy in Tehran by arresting a number of protesters. The Iran foreign ministry has issued a statement saying it regrets the attack and that it is committed to the safety of diplomats.
British officials had earlier talked with the Iranian charge in London and urged Iranian authorities to “act with utmost urgency to ensure the situation is brought under control and to protect our diplomatic compound, as they are obliged to do under international law,” according to a report posted on The Telegraph website.
International law, however, is only followed by Britain and the United States when politically advantageous.
For instance, the U.S. violated international law in 2007 when it raided the Iranian Liaison Office in Arbil, Iraq, which was at the time in the process of becoming accredited as an officially recognized consulate.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The U.S. insisted the office was being used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a local headquarters. However, both Iranian and Kurdish Autonomous Region officials said it was a diplomatic mission in the city of Arbil located in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Following the raid, the U.S. illegally detained a number of Iranian diplomats for a period of two and a half years. It had kidnapped the officials after failing to grab the deputy head of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Mohammed Jafari, and chief of intelligence of the IRGC, General Manuchehr Frouzandeh. Both were on an official visit to Iraq in an effort to improve bilateral security. They met the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.
The raid came hours after George W. Bush delivered an address to the nation claiming Iran provided “material support for attacks on American troops.” Bush issued threats against Iran and Syria. "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq,” he declared.
The following month, in February of 2007, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted that there was no evidence the Iranian government was supporting insurgents in Iraq.
The Iranian people have been suspicious of U.S. and British diplomats and embassies since Operation Ajax, the successful effort by the CIA in 1953 to overthrow the democratically elected president of Iran, Muhammad Mossadeq, and install the brutal dictator and monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as the Shah of Iran. The leader of Operation Ajax was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a senior CIA agent, and grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
The CIA coup and the fact Iranians considered the U.S. embassy in Tehran a “nest of spies” led in part to the takeover of the embassy in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution. In the United States, the hostage-taking was widely regarded as an outrage that violated a centuries-old principle of international law granting diplomats immunity from arrest. Accordingly, diplomatic compounds are considered inviolable.
Of course, as the 2007 incident in Iraq demonstrates, it depends on what country has its embassies violated and who is doing the violating.