The UK and Iran: A Complicated Relationship
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The UK has announced it will reopen its embassy in Iran for the first time since 2011, signalling a rapprochement and a move towards normalisation of diplomatic ties. The picture in recent years hasn’t always been so bright, however. In 2009, after the election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahdmeninejad as Iranian President, the country’s supreme leader Ayatollaah Ali Khamenei blamed the opposition’s accusations of electoral fraud on encouragement from ‘arrogant powers’ in the West, describing Britain as the ‘worst of those powers’. Relations reached their lowest point in 2011, when Britain announced sanctions against Iran and broke off involvement with the country’s banks after the IAEA published a report on the country’s nuclear programme. Iran reacted by expelling the British Ambassador from the country, which was followed by an intense period of demonstrations during which protesters stormed the British embassy. The British government at the time claimed the protests had the support of the Iranian government and closed the Tehran embassy as a result. It also expelled all Iranian diplomatic staff from the UK.
Protesters storming the British Embassy in Tehran in 2011
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