Diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States were formally severed in April 1980, five months after militant supporters of the 1979 Islamic revolution ransacked the U.S. Embassy and took Americans hostage, holding them for more than a year. The building is now preserved as sort of museum to the revolution, replete with a host of plaques and signs decrying U.S. imperialism, as well as wax statues of American officials plotting their sabotage.
After rounds of negotiations between Iran and its Western interlocutors yielded a definitive nuclear agreement in July, European governments and companies have swiftly sought to bolster ties with Iran and sniff out new opportunities within its huge domestic market, soon to be unshackled from a host of international sanctions.
Britain, whose political legacy in Iran is considered by many Iranians to be as toxic as that of the United States, recently reopened its embassy in Tehran after a four-year hiatus. Inside the restored diplomatic mission, observers found graffiti above an image of Queen Elizabeth II that read "Death to England."
"We are exploring our way forward," British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond told the Guardian newspaper, shrugging at the presence of the graffiti. "The important thing is to distinguish between agreement to have a civilised dialogue and agreement to agree on everything."