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UK govt. under pressure to settle £400m debt to Iran

London, IRNA - A British Conservative Party politician has said that his country's delay in paying £400m debt to the Islamic Republic of Iran has made it difficult to resolve disputes over consular issues and the 2015 nuclear deal.

Tobias Martin Ellwood, Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East and former UK Government Minister at the Ministry of Defense from 2017 to 2019, reiterated remarks made by Jeremy Hunt, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who underlined that paying 400 million pounds to Iran is not a kind of ransom, because the British government accepted the repayment; so, humanitarian channels can be used to dodge anti-Iran sanctions and settle the debt.

Britain owes as much as £400m to Iran arising from the non-delivery of 1,500 Chieftain Tanks and 250 other armored vehicles ordered by the then Shah of Iran before his overthrow in 1979.

Ellwood argued that it seems unlikely that the Biden administration opposes the repayment, because the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the UK government is the one who can decide upon the issue.

The British lawmaker also noted, if it was a ransom, it should not be paid, but it is only a sort of debt, and that Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defense, has confirmed such a debt to Iran, which should be paid, because more delay can affect bilateral ties between London and Tehran.

Despite the fact that the British and Iranian officials rule out any link between the debt and Nazanin Zaghari, an Iranian British woman, who is incarcerated in Tehran because of security charges, there are some speculations in the UK's public opinion, orchestrated by her husband Richard Ratcliffe and some British legislators that the two issues are related.

Tulip Siddiq, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, criticized British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for neglecting Zaghari's case, urging Britain's government to settle the debt to secure her release from prison.

Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs Ali Bagheri Kani said in London a week ago that the two sides are discussing the issue of settling the debt, and that they have to finalize the way of repayment yet.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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