Philip Hammond has been urged by a former cabinet colleague to press Iran on its support for terror groups during his visit to Tehran to reopen the British Embassy this weekend.
In the latest sign of a thawing of long-strained relations, it was announced yesterday that the embassy will start operated four years after being stormed by protesters over sanctions from the international community. The Iranian embassy in London is also expected to reopen.
It comes a month after world leaders including Britain and Iran signed an agreement – heavily criticised by Israel – to curb its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.
Conservative Friends of Israel Parliamentary Chairman Eric Pickles MP said difficult questions must be posed.
“The Foreign Secretary must make strong representations to Iran that its well-documented support for international terror groups is wholly unacceptable,” he said. “Just this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei vowed that the country will “take all possible means to support anyone who fights Israel”. Iran’s ongoing attempts to destabilise the region warrants unequivocal condemnation.”
He added: “Iran’s human rights record is equally lamentable. The Foreign Secretary should express the United Kingdom’s horror at Iran’s surge in the use of the death penalty and suppression of even the most basic of human rights.”
These issues were not part of negotiations on the nuclear agreement.
Israel has claimed the nuclear deal helps pave Iran’s route to the bomb – a claim strongly denied by the US and other negotiators.