- Francesca Gillette
- BBC News
One hour before
The British government and its Iranian counterpart have entered into discussions about a £ 400 million debt owed to the United Kingdom to Iran, according to the statements of the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs James Cleverley, who said that these discussions are not related to the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.
The United Kingdom owes Iran these funds due to the British failure to deliver tanks to Iran that had been agreed to be delivered in the 1970s.
The British citizen of Iranian descent, Nazanin, who is imprisoned in Iran, believes that her detention came as a means of pressure on Britain to repay the debt.
“There are two completely separate issues,” said Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister.
Johnson said in a press statement: “We are doing everything in our power to take care of the interests of Nazanin and other problems facing the difficult dual-national cases with Tehran.”
Nazanin has re-grabbed the headlines over the past few weeks after an Iranian court decided to jail her for an additional year, a few weeks after she served a five-year prison sentence. A British citizen of Iranian descent was imprisoned for the first time in Iran in 2016 after a court found her guilty of espionage charges, which she denied.
Her husband, Richard, still insists that Nazanin was used by Iran as a leverage in the dispute over the yet to be paid debt, as well as talks about the deal between Iran and Western powers.
Minister Cleverley told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday: “As for the military contract dating back to the 1970s, which has been talked about for decades, negotiations are continuing. It is true that, unfortunately, they have been going on for a long time, but they are continuing.” “.
When asked about the progress of the negotiations, Cleverley said: “There is a legal procedure related to this issue. Iran gave up this legal procedure a short time ago after it caused the disruption of the course of events.”
He added, “We are discussing ways to reach a settlement of this problem, which has been going on for many decades.”
He continued, “The reports we received at the end of the week – which linked the negotiations taking place with the arbitrary imprisonment of dual British citizens in Iran, I think are inappropriate – because they are two completely separate cases that preceded one of the other for a long time.”
He pointed out that the imprisonment of dual nationalities in Iran “should not be linked to a decades-long dispute regarding tanks.”
Tulip Siddiq, a deputy in parliament for the district to which Nazanin, 42, posted a tweet on her account on the social networking site Twitter, in which she said: “There may be attempts to indoctrinate people with a false story about the money amounting to 400 million pounds in the Nazanin case. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is only a ransom. But that is not true because it is an old historical debt that the courts (and the government) have recognized that the UK owes to Iran. “
The British government has condemned Iran on several occasions for the treatment of a British prisoner of Iranian origin. Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign minister, used the strongest language ever to speak about this issue, describing Iran’s treatment of the British prisoner last Sunday as “amounting to torture.”
Raab told the BBC that Iran was using Nazanin in a “cat and mouse game” for diplomatic gain.
He added, “Nazanin is being held in violation of the law, this is what I believe, in light of international law. I also believe that she is being subjected to violations and torture.”
Richard Ratcliffe, who has not seen his wife since 2016, said that his family had not received any new information about the British prisoner, but he welcomed the reports broadcast by Iranian television about the long-term conflict with Britain, considering those reports a “good sign.”
“I feel that what is happening is an indication that we are in the middle of negotiations, not at the end of them,” the husband told the BBC.
He added, “But we will hold onto hope for us and for all families who suffer from the same problem.”