London: Following the release of two British nationals held in Iranian prisons for several years, UK foreign minister Liz Truss on Wednesday confirmed that the UK had paid Iran a USD 530 million debt for an order of tanks that was cancelled after the 1979 Islamic revolution, Sputnik reported.
“The IMS [International Military Services] debt has been settled in full compliance with UK and international sanctions and all legal obligations. These funds will be ring-fenced solely for the purchase of humanitarian goods,” the news agency quoted Truss as saying in a statement.
Notably, the debt was seen as the prime hurdle in the release of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who had been held in Iran since 2016 on suspicion of plotting against the Iranian government.
Another British national, Anoush Ashoori, a retired civil engineer sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment after he was arrested in 2017 at Tehran airport on spying charges, was also released on Wednesday.
The UK’s debt to Iran is reportedly over a failure to deliver Chieftain tanks which were ordered by Shah of Iran before he was overthrown in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, according to Sputnik.
In 2009, London admitted that it owed Iran for the undelivered tanks, however, it claimed that the debt could not be honoured while Iran was still subject to economic sanctions for its nuclear program.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday visited Riyadh and met with the de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in efforts to ease skyrocketing gasoline prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to The Washington Post.