A Look At Conflicts Between Iran and Britain

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Tensions between Britain and Iran date to the 19th century when London acquired large economic concessions. Britain later had significant control in Iran's oil industry. For decades, conspiracy-minded Iranians have alleged British interference in Iran, including in the overthrow of the late Shah in 1979.

Here are some recent incidents:

APRIL 1980:

Iranian gunmen storm the country's embassy in London and take 26 hostages. British special forces later retake the building and kill five of the gunmen, who said they were protesting against oppression in Iran.


Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issues a religious edict ordering Muslims to kill British author Salman Rushdie, saying his novel “The Satanic Verses” was blasphemous to Islam. Iran later breaks diplomatic relations with Britain. The two countries normalize relations ten years later.

MARCH 2007:

Iran detains 15 British Navy personnel on charges of illegally entering Iranian waters. Britain denied the claim. The sailors are freed the next month.

JUNE 2007:

Iran's foreign ministry condemns Britain's decision to grant knighthood to Salman Rushdie, calling it an insult to the Muslim world.

JUNE 2009:

Britain freezes some Iranian assets under sanctions imposed for Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Iran's supreme leader brands Britain as the “most evil” of the country's enemies. He suggests Britain had a role in unrest tied to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election.


Britain cuts financial ties with Iranian banks in a new sanction against Iran's alleged effort to develop nuclear weapons. Iranian protesters storm Britain's embassy in Tehran, two days after Iran's parliament votes to reduce ties with Britain in response to the new sanctions.