Just after 3 p.m. on Nov. 29, about 200 demonstrators ransacked the British Embassy in Tehran, chanting "Death to England," setting fire to the Union Jack, carting off a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, and detaining staff as Iranian security officers stood by. It bore all the marks of a state-orchestrated provocation.
What aroused Iranian leaders’ ire were stiff financial penalties imposed on Nov. 21 by the U.K., the U.S., and Canada. The European Union may today also impose trade and travel bans on almost 200 Iranian individuals and companies. The sanctions punish Iran for clandestine nuclear weapons work and follow dozens of earlier measures intended to make leaders choose between prosperity and the bomb, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Dec. 5 issue.