Britain is set to pay a long-standing debt of £450 million to Iran to help free imprisoned mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
According to new reports Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond have authorised government lawyers to settle the 38 year-long dispute over a tank deal.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been locked up since April 2016 on trumped up propaganda charges. Her sentence was extended after the Foreign Secretary made a colossal blunder over her intentions while in the country.
According to exclusive reports Iranian hardliners have told ministers they expect the long-standing debt to be settled as part of a shopping list of demands before Nazanin is freed.
Although the government has moved quickly to distance the debt repayment from the Zaghari-Ratcliffe incident, it seems to be a coincidence that the payment is set to be agreed after almost 40 years at the same time Britain finds itself in the middle of a diplomatic crisis.
Speaking after his first meeting with Boris, Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard said: “It is important that the UK honours its international legal obligations, so that Iran can honour its legal obligations.
“They are separate things, but it is good for the atmosphere if they are all served.”
Treasury and Foreign Office officials are working on a way around ongoing UN sanctions on military equipment, overseen by the EU, that currently forbid the payment.
The money is already being held by the High Court on behalf of the Government, after the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favour of Iran in 2001.
A government spokeswoman said: “This is a long standing case and relates to contracts signed over 40 years ago with the pre-revolution Iranian regime.
“Funding to settle the debt was paid to the high court by the Treasury in 2002.
“Iran’s Ministry of Defence remains subject to EU sanctions.
“It is wrong to link a completely separate debt issue with any other aspect of our bilateral relationship with Iran.”