- Title: VARIOUS: Protesters pelt UK embassy as Iran row worsens
- Date: 2nd April 2007
- Summary: PROTESTER HOLDING UP PAPER READING (English): 'WE ARE READY TO DIE TO REACH TO SCIENTIFIC INDEPENDENCE'
- Reuters ID: LVAA5GX2W85QOYGQ93Z47RW420DX
- Duration: 00:00:04
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: Several small blasts have rocked the British embassy in central Tehran causing plumes of smoke to rise into the air from inside the compound during a protest over detained British military personnel. As the crisis worsens, Iran has ignored growing international pressure to release the 15 sailors and marines, and has said London should change its behaviour over the nine-day stand-off. Iranian protesters hurled stones and big firecrackers at Britain's embassy in Tehran on Sunday (April 1) in a worsening crisis over 15 detained British naval personnel.
No one was hurt by the small explosive devices, which went off with loud bangs and sent clouds of smoke rising from inside the compound. About 100 demonstrators chanted: "British, British, death to you, death to you."
Iran's capture of the 15 sailors and marines has drawn international criticism but Tehran has ignored calls to release the 14 men and one woman, saying Britain must admit they illegally entered Iranian waters.
London insists they were in Iraqi territory when seized.
One witness at the British Embassy protest counted eight blasts going off inside the embassy compound. Demonstrators, who scuffled with police, included members of the Basij, a hardline religious militia. Protesters called for the embassy to be closed down.
The row, at a time of heightened Middle East tensions over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, pushed oil prices last week to six-month highs. The West accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran has ignored growing international pressure to release the 15 sailors and marines, saying London should change its behaviour over the nine-day-old stand-off.
U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday called on Iran to release the 15 at once.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, current holder of the European Union presidency, demanded the sailors' release.
"Ultimately, the capture of the fifteen British soldiers highlights, yet again, who we are dealing with. And that's why I say again that, in this situation, Great Britain has the full solidarity of the European Union," she said during a speech in Jerusalem.
"We demand the immediate release of the fifteen British soldiers," she added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying on state television: "Iran is waiting for a change of behaviour by Britain and a balanced stance by this country over our legal demands."
He did not outline the demands but, in a speech on Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Britain should have apologised. He has also accused London of not following "the legal or logical way" in the dispute.
Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that Britain would be prepared to give Iran guarantees that the Royal Navy would not knowingly enter Iranian waters without permission.
But Britain would not apologise or say its boats entered Iran's waters, the report said.
Later on Sunday, British Defence Secretary Des Browne told the BBC that Britain was in "direct bilateral communication" with Iran as it tried to win the release of 15 detained sailors and marines.
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