Britain’s debt to Iran growing day by day, Iran says

October 12, 2020 - 18:11

TEHRAN – Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has rejected any link between the British government’s debt to Iran and the release of dual British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, saying Britain’s debt is growing day by day.

“England has a definite debt to Iran and the debt is growing day by day due to the delay in its repayment,” Khatibzadeh said during a press conference on Monday. “These delays are unacceptable.”

He said the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe was decided by the court, highlighting the independence of the Iranian court in making decisions on legal issues.

“She is serving her sentence based on the [court’s] ruling,” he added.

The UK is thought to owe as much as £400m to the Iranian government arising from the non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered by the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Last month, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged for the first time that he is actively seeking to pay the debt to Iran to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

According to The Guardian, Wallace said the government was exploring every legal avenue to pay the debt, which for the first time he formally acknowledged the British government owes to Iran.

Tehran was quick to deny any connection between the two cases. Khatibzadeh said at the time that “the British government has a definite 40-year long debt to Iran and it doesn’t matter whether a British official acknowledges this debt or not.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also said the British government is a “thief” if it links the payment of Iran’s debt to the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“If they continue this path, it would mean before the world’s public opinion and even Britain’s that England is a thief,” Zarif told Kar-va-Kargar newspaper in an interview published on October 4. “It doesn’t mean that Iran is a hostage taker,” he added.

Zarif said for forty years the British haven’t paid the money, which belongs to the Iranian people. “Therefore, they do not have the right to set terms and conditions for its repayment.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, has been detained in Iran for more than four years on charges of trying to orchestrate a soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

The prosecutor general of Tehran had stated in October 2017 that she was being held for running “a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran.”

MH/PA

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