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Britain to close Iranian military purchasing office

British Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday that his government will close Iran's military procurement office in London. He restated Britain's view that the UN Security Council should invoke an arms embargo against Iran. He said Iran had made clear that it would not comply with the council's cease-fire demand in the war with Iraq.

In a prepared speech to the General Assembly, Sir Geoffrey said the last straw that led Britain to close the procurement offices was Monday's Iranian attack on the Hong Kong-registered British tanker Gentle Breeze in the Persian Gulf. Britain has an embargo on arms sales to Iran and Iraq, but the British government has allowed Iran to coordinate its arms purchases in Europe from offices in London.

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Meanwhile, the United States yesterday reported formally to the Security Council that the Iranian vessel Iran Ajr had laid six mines in the Persian Gulf before an American military helicopter exercised the ``inherent right of self-defense'' by attacking the ship.

In a news conference at a New York hotel yesterday, Iranian President Ali Khamenei called the American attack the biggest mistake the Reagan administration has made and claimed Iran had the right to retaliate.

Calling the incident ``bloody, bitter, and hateful,'' Mr. Khamenei said the attack ``has taken the war in the Persian Gulf to a new stage and does picture in front of us the prospect of bloody events.''

Khamenei had been asked what he meant in a speech yesterday to the UN General Assembly when he said the US attack on an Iranian vessel had set off a chain of events which might not be limited to the Gulf.

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