Iran Central Bank Governor says £400 million British debt has been 'received'

Iran Central Bank Governor says £400 million British debt has been 'received'
Iran's Central Bank Governor told local media that a decades-old £400 million debt owed by the UK had been 'received' following reports that Tehran only obtained part of the money.
2 min read
28 April, 2022
The Iranian embassy in London said in a statement that the debt had been 'repaid with accrued interest' in March [source: Getty]

The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) rebuffed reports on Wednesday that the historic £400 million debt owed by the UK to Tehran was not received in full by the Iranian state. 

A senior Iranian government source was quoted in The Guardian saying money was blocked in Oman and therefore had not reached Tehran. 

Ali Salehabadi, the governor of the Central Bank, rejected these reports and said: “We have already received the money paid by Britain and the funds are even being used,” according to Iran International. 

He then went on to say: “Information on the [release of the] rest of [Iran’s] blocked sums will gradually be provided. Generally, the work is progressing well.” No further information was provided in Iranian media. 

The UK Foreign Office told The New Arab the debt was “settled,” adding that the payment complied with UK and international sanctions and legal obligations. The money has been "ring-fenced" for humanitarian goods, they said, without identifying an accountability mechanism for this condition. 

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The £400 million sum dates back to the 1970s when the Shah of Iran ordered tanks and weapons from the UK. Britain took the money, but only delivered some of the tanks before the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The debt has been linked to the release of British-Iranian dual nationals; including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori who returned to the UK last month after years in arbitrary detention. 

The Iranian embassy in London released a statement on March 17 acknowledging that the debt was “repaid with accrued interest” alongside an announcement that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashoori were released from prison. 

Anoosheh and his wife Sherry Izadi told The New Arab they don’t know how the debt was eventually paid. The couple from London said a forthcoming inquiry into the matter will "not provide closure” after years of separation and trauma, but could give some “answers”. 

A number of dual nationals remain in detention in Iran, including British-American-Iranian Morad Tahbaz who was returned to prison after being released on furlough in March.