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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Foreign Secretary statement on Iran: 16 March 2022

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss issues a statement following the departure from Iran of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, and the release of Morad Tahbaz from prison.

16 March 2022

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:

After years of detention by the Government of Iran, British Nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori will return from Iran today. Morad Tahbaz has also been released from prison on furlough. It is the result of tenacious and creative British diplomacy.

Nazanin has been held in Iran for almost six years, and Anoosheh almost five. Morad has been in prison for four. They will be reunited with their families and loved ones.

Their release is the result of years of hard work and dedication by our brilliant diplomats, and intensive efforts over the past six months. I pay tribute to my predecessors and the Prime Minister, who have all worked hard to resolve this issue.

We have the deepest admiration for the resolve, courage and determination Nazanin, Anoosheh and Morad, and their families, have shown. They have faced hardship that no family should ever experience and this is a moment of great relief.

In parallel, we have also settled the IMS debt, as we said we would.

I made resolving the continued detention of British nationals and the IMS debt payment my top priorities when I entered office in September 2021. In my first week, I spoke to the families of all the detainees and met my Iranian counterpart in New York.

Last October and November I dispatched a team of Foreign Office negotiators to Tehran to secure the release of the detainees.

Last December I met Omani Foreign Minister Badr to secure Oman's diplomatic assistance. We are grateful to our friends in Oman for their support in securing the return of our nationals.

Last month I spoke twice to Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in a final push to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion. Our officials then held a last round of negotiations to sign off an agreement allowing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori to return to the UK, and Morad Tahbaz to be released on furlough to his house in Tehran.

The IMS 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.


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