Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman held in Iran since 2016, returns to the UK after negotiations between the government and Tehran over the release of the dual nationals.
Details of the negotiations remain unclear, but Iranian state media have said they are linked to the UK’s £400m debt to Iran since 1979.
The semi-official Fars news agency said the British government had paid its $530 million debt to Tehran before it was liberated.
What is religion?
The debt relates to Iran’s order to purchase 1,750 tanks and other Chieftain vehicles, which the United Kingdom eventually backed out after the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Iranian Revolution and its replacement by an Islamic republic.
£400 million was paid up front and almost none of the tanks were delivered.
The government has not confirmed whether the debt has been paid or not, but earlier said it agreed it had to repay the “legitimate debt”.
Chancellor Liz Truss said: sky news:: “We made it clear that this is a legitimate debt we owe to Iran, and we looked for ways to repay it.”
Why is the payment delayed?
Paying off the debt has been complicated by the fact that Tehran is still subject to British sanctions related to nuclear development.
The British Foreign Office had previously been reluctant to discuss whether a way could be found to pay off the debt that would avoid sanctions.
The United Nations, the European Union and other individual countries have imposed sanctions since the announcement of Iran’s nuclear program in 2002.
Iran agreed to a deal in 2013 that saw sanctions eased in exchange for curbs on uranium enrichment and better access to UN inspectors.
Is religion related to Zaghari-Ratcliffe?
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who denies plotting to overthrow the Iranian government, believes she was imprisoned as leverage to repay the debt, although both the UK and Iran have said there is no connection between them.
According to the evidence submitted to Parliament, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP, Tulip Siddik, said “Nazanin has been repeatedly told personally that his arrest is related to the debts the UK owes to Iran”.
In 2021, Iranian state media reported that unnamed officials said Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be released once the debt was paid.
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