Iranian FM urges UK to promptly pay outstanding debts

Iranian FM urges UK to promptly pay outstanding debts
Iranian FM Hossein Amirabdollahian has called on the UK to settle its outstanding debts, which have been linked to Iran's detention of British citizens Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.
3 min read
09 November, 2021
The Iranian FM also said 'certain parties' are to blame for 'aggravating the situation' over the nuclear deal [Getty]

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called on Monday the UK to immediately pay Tehran outstanding debts widely thought to be a sticking point in the release of dual British-Iranian nationals held in Iran.

In a tweet posted Monday, Abdollahian said had told British counterpart Liz Truss that London must pay off its debts “as soon as possible”.

The debt of about £400 million has repeatedly been linked to the release of British citizens Anoosheh Ashoori and Nazanin Zagahri-Ratcliffe, whose families have been campaigning outside the UK Foreign Office for their release. Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin, is now on the 17th day of his hunger strike outside the FO. 

The sum is supposedly related to the sale of large-scale tanks, which the Iranians paid for in advance before the 1970s revolution. They did not receive the military vehicles and the UK has kept the money. 

“That debt is the reason she has been held there since 2016,” Ratcliffe said in May of this year.

“Nazanin’s fate has long been in the shadow of the vagaries of this court case in London, and in the hands of powerful, unaccountable old men still arguing over their money.”  

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson told The New Arab: “We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family we will continue to press Iran on this point.” 

The wife of Anoosheh, Sherry, has also called on the British government to repay the debt to secure the release of her husband, a retired engineer held in Evin prison. 

Nazanin was arrested in Iran in 2016 while on a family holiday with her then 22-month old daughter Gabriella. Anoosheh was visiting his elderly mother in Tehran when he was arrested in 2017. 

The two foreign ministers also discussed upcoming nuclear deal talks in Vienna.

Indirect talks between the US and Iran, which stalled in June after the election of hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, are set to resume on 29 November in Vienna. 

The ambition is to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, abandoned under President Donald Trump, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing uranium enrichment. 

The Iranian FM said “certain parties” are to blame for “aggravating the situation” over the nuclear deal “with their irresponsibility and silence on the US’ measures,” reported ABNA

Iranian has called on the US to promise it will not abandon a nuclear deal again as well as lift all sanctions imposed by Trump. 

Live Story

Ali Bagheri Kani, who is Iran's deputy foreign minister and Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator, will be in Europe this week ahead of the renewed talks. 

A British Foreign Office spokesperson said Bagheri Kani would be in London on 11 November.

"We will urge Iran to take the opportunity to swiftly conclude the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) deal on the table," the spokesperson told Reuters.

Bagheri will also visit Berlin and Paris this week.