Britain's top diplomat in Iran as United States oil sanctions back on

Irving Hamilton
November 20, 2018

The visit, a first since Hunt took office, comes two weeks after USA sanctions against Tehran snapped back, with President Trump repeatedly saying he was unhappy with the 2015 deal and demanding that Iran curbed its missile development program and stopped its involvement in Middle East conflicts, notably the Syrian war.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was to visit Iran for the first time on Monday for talks about the nuclear deal and freeing United Kingdom nationals held in Iranian jails.

The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency - the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations - indicated last week, that, days after fresh U.S. sanctions against Iran took effect, Iran was abiding by the terms of the deal with global powers.

Another issue on Mr. Hunt's agenda is stressing the importance of Iran abiding by the wide-ranging trade sanctions U.S. President Donald Trump implemented earlier this month.

Secretary Hunt is the first Western official of his rank to visit Iran since the United States - formerly a party to the Iran nuclear deal - unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in May.

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Britain's top diplomat said Iran's hardline regime must release people including charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is now being held on disputed spying charges. "It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive", Jeremy Hunt said in a statement before his departure for Tehran. They believe this formula could shield individual member states from being hit by USA sanctions that have been reimposed on trade with Iran after Washington's pullout from the nuclear deal.

The Foreign Secretary is also due to discuss the war in Yemen during his trip, which will include talks with his counterpart, Mohammad Zarif.

"But we also need to see an end to destabilizing activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces".

Iranian state TV said Hunt would also meet Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, suggesting that talks over the fate of Zaghari-Ratcliffe were likely.

"So I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country's leaders: putting innocent people in prison can not and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage".

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