Mar 14, 2021, 11:14 AM
Journalist ID: 1843
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Will Britain end distrainment for paying debt to Iran?

London, March 14, IRNA – Under such conditions that negotiations on the release of Iran’s blocked monetary assets are underway with some countries, it is expected that Britain, too, will much sooner end distraint on paying back its lingering debt to Iran for the legally approved old file of canceled Chieftain tanks contract and close this file cleanly.

According to IRNA, four whole decades pass now since Iran and Britain had signed a contract for importing Chieftain tanks and the British government still resorting to the anti-Iranian sanctions keeps on hesitating on paying back its debt to Iran for that canceled deal.

Until a short while ago the close media to the British government argued that the imprisonment of the dual Iranian-British nationality citizen, Nazanin Zaqari, who was sentenced to a five-year term was the excuse for their government’s long delay in that debt payment. They claimed that Iran had taken Ms. Zaqari hostage to get back that money.

But as the end of that Iranian-British citizen’s imprisonment term came last week and she was freed, those media’s job has got tougher during the past few days and if Zaqari’s sentence in her second court hearing, that is scheduled for this week, will not be legally very high, those media will be deprived of their excuse in that respect.

Although both Britain and Iran have officially ruled out any relation between Zaqari’s judiciary file in Iran and Britain’s debt to Iran, the literature of the British side has been effective in strengthening such rumors.

The clearest accusation was made during the former British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt’s tenure, who had accused Tehran of hostage-taking of the dual nationality citizens and warned the British-Iranian citizens to refrain from traveling to Iran.

He also in an intriguing controversy allocated diplomatic immunity to Nazanin Zaqari to turn the issue into an official diplomatic dispute between the two countries. Hunt had claimed that his decision in that respect was an important diplomatic move to prove the fact to Tehran that it was acting quite wrong.

His successor, Dominic Raab, adopted milder literature and it seemed as if he had a better insight into the bilateral ties. Without using terms that could have a negative effect on the two counties’ relations, he said that the double nationality citizens must be immediately released without any terms and conditions.

Another former British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, too, has recently in an interview with the BBC reiterated that resolving the lingering issue of British debt to Iran has taken too long, and paying it back should have taken place much sooner than this.

He, all the same, also said that the British government is seeking every possibility for transferring that money to Iran, but the sanctions have made it tough to finalize the matter.

In related news, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saied Khatibzadeh has said that if Hunt’s destructive moves were not made Ms. Zaqari could have been freed sooner.

“The British government should also keep in mind that the files of the Iranian citizens who have been arrested in Britain without any logical justification and imprisoned against the human right, are still open in Iran and Tehran will keep on pursuing the matter,” added Khatibzadeh.

At any rate, linking Nazanin Zaqari’s judiciary file with the old British debt to Iran is now more invalid than ever before, as the scapegoats for London’s refraining from finalizing that deal no longer exist. Experts believe Britain has gained noticeable benefits for blocking Iran’s money in this canceled deal for four decades.

A while ago a British official confessed for the first time that Britain is indebted to Iran on that case. The British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in a letter to a group of lawyers, confessed: The British government confirms that London’s debt to Iran must be paid and is surveying legal ways for paying this debt.”

Wallace who was once a member of the parliamentary British-Iranian Friendship Group and was one of the opponents of delaying the payment of that debt had also written that he believed rapid resolving of the file is necessary.

Last week, too, a British deputy foreign secretary had confessed that London owes 400 million ponds to Tehran in canceled Chieftains’ file and is spending serious efforts aimed at returning that money is underway.

Simon McDonald had added a few days ago in an interview with the BBC: We confess that this money belongs to Iran and must be paid to that country, but the key complication in the issue is the anti-Iranian sanctions and how to pay that money, that is a part of the issue.

He reiterated that broad efforts aimed at finalizing the issue are underway.

No one knows why so many efforts have not led to resolving this problem.

That is while the Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baidinezhad had earlier criticized Britain’s lingering delay, resorting to numerous excuses.

The debt is for the cancellation of a contract between the British Defense Secretary and the former Iranian Political system of the Pahlavi Dynasty in the year 1971 for buying 1,500 Chieftain tanks and a number of armored vehicles.

The British violation of its commitments began during former Iranian prime minister Shapur Bakhtiar’s short tenure when a part of that contract was suddenly unilaterally canceled simultaneously with Brigadier General Hassan Tufanian’s visit to London.

A year later and after the victory of the Islamic Revolution another part of the contract was unilaterally canceled by Britain. All such moves were made under such conditions that Iran had fully paid the contract money to London.

According to the court documents, the contract was fully canceled on Feb 5, 1978 and ever since then, the two countries have had a dispute on clearing the balance money of the contract.

Presently Iran claims that Britain must pay some 400 million pounds according to the contract to Iran, while on the interest money of that amount, too, there is a difference of opinion between the two sides.

Iranian President Hassan Ruhani had last week in a phone talk with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: While we are witnesses to releasing of debts of major indebted countries to Iran either from Iran’s own blocked monetary assets or the payment of their own debts, it is very strange that the forty-some years old lingering debt of Britain to Iran has still remained unpaid.

“Accelerating the payment of Iran’s monetary assets will also be effective in problem resolving in other fields, as well,” Ruhani reiterated.”


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