Ex foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt says UK must pay debt to Iran

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the UK “should absolutely pay” its debt owed to Iran.

It is thought that the UK owes £400 million to the Iranian government due to its non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered by the Shah of Iran.

“It is a debt and this is a country that pays its debts,” the MP for South West Surrey argued in an interview with Sky News this morning, pushing back on claims the transaction would be a ‘ransom payment’ to the theocratic regime that has detained scores of British citizens,

“There are also political considerations,” he said regarding the payment of the debt while Iran remains under US sanctions, he went on; “but given that President Obama did pay America’s debts to Iran in exactly the same situation, I think it’s unlikely that we would have the same objections from President Biden than we might have had from President Trump.”

He also acknowledged that there were “practical issues with sanctions,” but said: “those are things that you can sometimes get around, if you, for example, gave £400m worth of medicines or something like that.”

Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s hardline deputy foreign minister is on a visit to the UK to meet with Foreign Office officials ahead of the resumption of the Vienna talks later this month.

Incumbent foreign secretary Liz Truss met with her Iranian counterpart at the UN general assembly in New York City in September.

She raised the case of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who marked the 2000th day of her arbitrary detention in the country on 23 September.

Hunt has also expressed his support for her husband Richard Ratcliffe who is currently on day 19 of his hunger strike outside the foreign office in Whitehall.