Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 
By Ali Arouzi and Matthew Grimson

TEHRAN, Iran — Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran on Sunday in a low-key ceremony — nearly four years after an angry pro-regime mob stormed the outpost, stealing hard drives and forcing staff to evacuate.

British foreign secretary Philip Hammond was on hand to mark the occasion, which represents a further thawing of relations after last month’s nuclear deal was agreed to. The Iranian embassy in London was also reopened.

The U.K. embassy was ransacked in November 2011 by a mob including members of the feared Basij paramilitary forces. In response, the British government lowered the Iranian embassy’s diplomatic status in London to the lowest possible.

The reopening in Tehran, though a significant step forward in relations for both countries, was received with little fanfare. A small group of journalists waited outside amid a sizable police presence, while inside Hammond said a few words and hoisted the Union Jack.

"Today's ceremony marks the end of one long journey, and the start of a new, and, I believe, exciting one," Hammond said, adding that reopening the embassy was the "logical next step to build confidence and trust between two great nations" after last month's nuclear agreement.

Ladan, a 69-year-old retired nurse joked “I have come here to get my visa,” while Ahmad, a 25-year-old student, said disapprovingly “the old fox has returned,” referring to a disparaging term for the British.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, shake hands on Sunday.Vahid Salemi / AP