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Spokesman: Iran’s debt received with dignity from UK, had nothing to do with other issues

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh (file photo)

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry says Iran collected its overdue debt from the UK in a dignified manner, and the repayment of the debt was not in any way related to other issues between the two countries.

Saeed Khatibzadeh made the remarks on Thursday in reaction to some false reports published by a number of British media outlets about the repayment of Iran’s debt after several decades of dawdling by the UK government.

Rejecting speculations and false claims by the British media, the spokesman said, “The Iranian people’s debt was collected with dignity and had nothing to do with other issues, and the allegation that it is being kept by the Swiss government is basically untrue.”

He drew attention to the sentimental and coordinated coverage of Iran’s release of two British-Iranian nationals by UK's media outlets as an attempt to overshadow the repayment of Iran’s debt by the British government.

“But what is of utmost importance and pivotal is reclaiming the Iranian people’s right and receiving what was owed by the British government, which had remained unpaid for decades due to London’s unwarranted resistance,” he added.

Tehran and London announced on Wednesday that the latter has settled a massive debt related to an unfulfilled military contract that dated back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. It came after years of wrangling between the two sides over the issue and the British government’s willful refusal to pay its debt.

Khatibzadeh explained that the debt was related to the purchase of Chieftain tanks by Iran during the final years of the Pahlavi regime.

The British side refused to settle the debt for four decades after the Islamic Revolution under different pretexts such as sanctions against the Islamic Republic, he said.

“However, our representatives were able to compel the British authorities to acknowledge the need to pay the debt, following legal proceedings in relevant courts and through political pressure on the British government,” he noted.

The spokesman further stressed that Iran is totally in control of the money and can spend it in any way it wants without the British side or any other party being entitled to meddle.

An informed source also offered more details about the payment, saying the money has been transferred to the account of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) with the Central Bank of Oman.

“Negotiations had taken place on repayment through a Swiss channel and through the Saman Bank account under the country’s central bank, but the parties did not agree on this,” IRNA on Thursday quoted the source as saying.

A news article published by the Guardian on Wednesday had claimed that the two sides agreed that the money “be paid first as a UK credit to the US, and the money then be transferred to the Saman Bank using the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement, a channel set up in 2020 by the administration of former US President Donald Trump to let humanitarian trade flow into Iran.”

However, the source rejected the claim, saying that the total amount of the debt was transferred from Britain’s central bank to Oman’s central bank and then to Iran’s central bank, and can be changed to any currency and withdrawn at Iran’s will.


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