Appeasing Iran as a Sponsor of Terrorism: The Tehran Embassy Occupation

  • David Carlton


The seizing of 63 hostages by militant Iranian students at the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 was an act of terrorism. For in international law every embassy is held to be in international effect the inviolable territory of the state concerned and not of the host state for as long as diplomatic relations are maintained. Hence even the Soviet Bloc countries during the Cold War respected the relevant so-called Vienna Convention and so allowed, for example, Cardinal Jozef Mindszenthy to remain in the US Embassy in Budapest for 15 years after he had sought refuge there in 1956. Moreover, 1979 the Government of Iran, headed in practice though not in theory by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, evidently approved of the invasion of the US Embassy and took no steps to evict the non-state actors who were in control. This made it, then, not only a case of terrorism but of a state openly sponsoring terrorism - which the United States, if it had chosen to see matters in that way, could have deemed to be an act of low-intensity undeclared war.


Security Council American People Diplomatic Relation Economic Sanction Innocent People 
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Copyright information

© David Carlton 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Carlton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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