London — Britain has met Col. Muammar Qaddafi's threat of more violence in the streets of London by insisting that four so-called diplomats attached to its embassy here, not known as a "people's bureau," must go home to Libya.
And as part of a wide-ranging policy of curbing terrorist violence, the government will enforce a visa system for iranians arriving here saying that they are students.
In the future Iranians must get their passports endorsed before they enter Britain. For the past seven years Iranian students have been exempt from visa requirements.
Britain insisted on the removal of the four Libyan nationals following strenuous Foreign Office attempts to persuade Colonel Qaddafi that the government would not tolerate violent acts against Libyan exiles.
In April two exiles were gunned downin London. Soon afterward in a speech in Tripoli Colonel Quaddafi said he would "liquidate" exiles who refused to return home by May 17.
At first the Libyan diplomatic mission in Britain tried to resist pressure by the Foreign Office to abandon violence and to discipline its members.
But shortly after four Libyan representatives in Washington were withdrawn on the orders of the Libyan leader, a similar decision was made for the London mission.
Announcing the withrawals in Parliament, Foreign Office Minister of State Douglas Hurd said the men were not necessarily connected with the two murders in April.
Nonetheless, the government here has been acting with great vigor to stamp out terrorist activity associated with Middle East embassies.
Action against Iranian students followed the Iranian Embassy siege in which five gunmen and two hostages died.
Whitehall officials said the visa requirement on Iranians was also part of British sanctions against Iran over the continued detention of American diplomatic hostages in Iran.
As news continued to flow into London of more terrorist outrages against Libyans in Europe, Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington decided that only the most determined government action would get the message through to Middle East governments that violence in the streets of London must stop.
Measures against Libya had to be weighed carefully. Some 6,000 Britons work in Libya, and exports to Libya are worth $:300 million ($660 million) a year. Last week Colonel Qaddafi threatened to cut off Libyan oil supplies to Britain, amd to withdraw his country's assets. He also spoke vaguely about charging Britain, Germany, and Italy thousands of millions of dollars in reparations for damage done to his country in World War II.
Lord Carrington, after close consultation with the US State Department and foreign ministries in Western Europe, decided that he must override Colonel Qaddafi's threats and take action.
One of the reasons the British government has moved into a tough stance in the known fact that diplomatic bags of Middle East embassies have been used to bring guns and other weapons into Britain in the last few weeks.