Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani made it clear to visiting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that the UK is not doing enough to support the nuclear deal compared to other European states, Iranian news agencies reported on December 10.
In the past year, Iranian companies have lamented how the UK has even actively throttled possible future trade opportunities by limiting the approval of visa applications from business people. Iranian banks, meanwhile, which have had a presence in London for more than 50 years, have found their activities blocked and slowed by the Bank of England (BoE), despite the introduction of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at the start of last year.
“After the JCPOA agreement was reached, unlike certain other European countries that did their best to engage in economic cooperation with Iran, the UK did not take appropriate measures to promote economic cooperation with Iran. You did not even solve the banking obstacles of the Iranian embassy in London,” Larijani told Johnson.
“At present, the ties between Iran and the UK are not strong enough and we have engaged in much less business cooperation compared to France and Germany,” Johnson acknowledged.
Explaining his mission to increase political, economic and parliamentary cooperation with Iran and remove the obstacles that stand in the way of the expansion of ties, Johnson—who must balance the UK’s support of the nuclear deal with the need not to anger the Donald Trump administration which has called for a ‘fixing or nixing’of the nuclear accord—added: “We are after increasing political interaction and we are willing to receive more Iranian tourists in the UK.”
In other comments reported by Mehr News Agency, Johnson reportedly said: “The Iran, Saudi Arabia tensions are not beneficial to any country. The problems between the two countries need to be solved and we intend to help Iran’s attempts to establish stability in the region.”
The quickly scheduled arrival of Johnson in Iran came as he attempted to secure the release of dual British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a mother of a three-year-old daughter and project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation who has been jailed for plotting to overthrow the regime. Following Johnson’s visit, hopes rose that Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who denies the allegations mage against her, could soon be freed from a Tehran prison after her expected appearance in court was postponed.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case was complicated when Johnson last month wrongly told the UK parliament that she was training journalists in Iran. It had been expected she would face fresh charges of espionage on December 10, partly based on Johnson’s remarks.
In comments on Johnson’s visit, the UK Foreign Office said Johnson and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “both spoke forthrightly” and “agreed on the need to make progress in all areas”.