Tensions between Britain and Iran have spiked again following the execution of a British national in Iran, with Downing Street actively reconsidering its diplomatic options for engagement with Tehran, including whether to support the US-backed nuclear deal.
“It makes no sense for Britain to be engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iran while Tehran executes British citizens,” Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital. “Reviving the JCPOA is just immense folly, and it is long overdue for the UK to reverse course over negotiations with Iran.”
“I think we are likely to see a significant tightening of the British position toward Iran,” he continued, adding that European appeasement toward Iran has proven “hugely counterproductive.”
Iran announced Saturday that it had executed British Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari, who previously served as Iranian deputy minister of defense from 2000 to 2005. Officials lured him back to Iran and arrested him in 2019 to face accusations of spying for Britain.
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Akbari and his family denied that he worked as a British intelligence operative, but appealed to the British government for help to obtain his release. His family instead alleged that Akbari served as an important piece in an internal power struggle within the regime, according to The Guardian.
But the regime carried out the execution last week in a move that prompted immediate condemnation from the British government.
“When we heard the tragic news on Saturday morning, we acted immediately to demonstrate our revulsion,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in an address to Parliament. “I ordered the summoning of Iran’s chargé d’affaires to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to make clear our strength of feeling. Our ambassador in Tehran delivered the same message to a senior Foreign Ministry official.”
The British ambassador to Iran has been temporarily recalled to the UK to discuss next steps regarding how to deal with Iran, The Telegraph reported. Cleverly announced a series of new sanctions against Iran’s prosecutor general for “appalling human rights violations.”
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Cleverly raised the issue with US State Secretary Antony Blinken on Monday when the two met, and Britain may indicate an end to its support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the nuclear deal. Britain has played a key role in helping to bring the deal to fruition, the result of which would provide Iran funds as Western allies would ease sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program.
But sources told The Telegraph that “the landscape and proposition has completely changed” since negotiations first began, “largely because of the behavior of the Iranian regime.”
The execution increased tensions surrounding a number of issues that have remained unresolved and contentious between Britain and Iran, such as Britain’s plan to brand the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as terrorists.
Iranian hardliners have urged the regime to continue its press against the alleged British spy network that would have worked with Akbari, with Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of a newspaper with close ties to the IRGC, demanding that Tehran must exact “revenge” against the UK
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“Now it is our turn to take revenge, and it is expected that the Ministry of Information will provide some information related to the leads, commanders, and agents of the British and Mossad intelligence services who were involved in technical interrogations and publish the expert knowledge obtained,” Shariatmadari wrote.
Iran also blasted the UK for its condemnations, highlighting Prince Harry’s recent admission in his new book that he killed 25 Taliban fighters and felt little remorse over it as evidence that the UK is “in no position to preach” on human rights.
“The British regime, whose royal family member, sees the killing of 25 innocent people as removal of chess pieces and has no regrets over the issue, and those who turn a blind eye to this war crime, are in no position to preach others on human rights,” Iran’s foreign minister wrote on Twitter.
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Gardiner criticized Harry’s comments, saying they provided the Iranian government with “propaganda” that helps to “undermine Britain on the world stage.”
Representatives for Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment by the time of publication.