Jeremy Hunt: UK should pay Iran £ 400million debt to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the UK government “absolutely should pay” a £ 400million debt it owes Iran to help free British nationals imprisoned there, like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Appearing on Sky News this morning, Hunt called the Iranian regime “horrible,” but the deal would be needed to secure Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release.

The money owed dates back to the 1970s, when the Shah of Iran signed a contract ordering 1,500 state-of-the-art Chieftain main battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles at a cost of £ 650million in the UK .

A problem arose in 1979 when, with just 185 tanks delivered to Tehran, the Iranian revolution overthrew Shah Pahlavi and installed an Islamic Republic.

The UK canceled the undelivered portion of the order and Iran wanted their money back.

It was eventually ruled by an international court that the UK owed Iran the large sum, but that it still had not yet been paid, this was seen as a blocking of the release of the detained political prisoners. by Iran.

Hunt told Sky News: “We have established that this is not about paying a ransom.

“It’s paying a debt that an international tribunal said we owe, that the Defense Secretary said we owe, and I think there is now no argument on the principle of that.

“It’s difficult. Iran is a horrible regime that does the most despicable things, so it doesn’t make anyone comfortable doing it, but now it’s a matter of mechanics.”

In addition to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iran currently holds two other British nationals in Anoush Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz on charges of espionage or espionage.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard is currently protesting outside the Foreign Office against a hunger strike to pressure Boris Johnson to meet with Iranian officials at COP26 to try to strike a deal.

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