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Britain hopes to reopen Tehran embassy before Christmas

British FM Philip Hammond says reopening embassy dependent on resolving technical issues
Iranian protesters break into the British embassy in Tehran on 29 November 2011 (AFP)

Britain is hoping to reopen its embassy in Tehran by the end of the year following a nuclear deal with Iran, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday.

"I very much hope that we will be in a position to reopen our respective embassies before the end of this year," Hammond said, more than a year after plans to reopen the missions were announced by his predecessor, William Hague. 

The British embassy in Tehran was closed in 2011 and Iranian diplomats expelled from the UK after about 200 protesters stormed the diplomatic compound.

At the time, William Hague, then British foreign secretary, said the protesters had the backing of the Iranian regime.

The foreign secretary told the House of Commons that he hoped to visit Tehran, after Iran struck a deal with the international community aimed at preventing the country from developing a nuclear weapon.

“There are some technical issues, as I’ve explained to the house before, on both sides that will have to be resolved before it can be done,” he said.

“But there is a very clear will to do it and I will be working directly with my Iranian counterpart to ensure that we clear away those obstacles over the next few months.

Negotiations on Tuesday in Vienna concluded with some international sanctions being lifted in exchange for inspections on the country’s nuclear programme, after 12 years of efforts to resolve the impasse.

Hammond told MPs the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb had been lifted.

Hammond added it was important that a religious edict had been enshrined prohibiting the construction of a nuclear weapon.

“With the conclusion of these negotiations the world can be reassured that all Iranian roots to a nuclear bomb have been closed off and the world can have confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian civil nuclear programme going forward,” he said.