Supporters chant anti-English slogans as diplomats, expelled from Britain, arrive in Tehran
Iranian diplomats expelled from Britain after radical youths stormed the British embassy in Tehran arrived home on Saturday to supporters bearing flowers and chanting "Death to England".
"Spy embassy closed for good," read one of the many placards carried by the crowd of some 100 men and women, most of whom appeared to be members of the hardline Basij militia, congregated at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport.
Britain evacuated all diplomatic staff and closed its embassy in Tehran after it was stormed and ransacked on Tuesday. France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors from Tehran in protest.
With swift condemnation from around the world, the embassy storming risks further isolating Iran which is already under several rounds of sanctions over the nuclear programme that many countries fear is aimed at developing atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has yet to comment on the incident, an indication, some analysts say, that it was organised by rival hardliners within the faction-riven establishment.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has expressed regret over the embassy invasion, which it said was a spontaneous overflowing of anger during a student protest. Britain says there must have been at least tacit approval by the ruling establishment.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned Britain's European Union partners not to allow the diplomatic row to worsen their own ties with the Islamic Republic.
"The British government is trying to extend to other European countries the problem between the two of us, but of course we have told European countries not to subject their ties with us with the kind of problems that existed between Iran and Britain," he was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
Not good ,not good at all, now you have commonwealth countries coming to the mother county in support. Now the allies of the UK shall gather to her side, as you see lines will be drawn. Then there opportunist who see advantage siding with UK. It is a bad cycle of consensus happening.
The Iranian establishment failed to take advantage of a potential hostage crisis - thereby emulating the 1979 episode - which would have necessitated allies Russia and China being reluctantly dragged into an international mediation exercise. The regime would have then been able to negotiate its way, at least partly, out of the current economic debacle while continuing with its nuclear energy program. Such an exercise would also have benefited Europe and the USA by obliging China to modify its declared foreign policy of non-intervention with regard to the internal politics of client states. Finally, the realization that a nuclear powered or even armed Iran is not quite the daunting prospect that its neighbor Pakistan actually presents, should gain currency. The real danger lies in one or more of the many insurgent groups capturing nuclear material for jihadist purposes.