Iran’s judiciary said it considered the United Kingdom ambassador to Tehran “persona non grata” for his alleged involvement in anti-government protests, increasing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, spokesman for the judiciary in Iran, said Rob Macaire had played a “provocative role” in recent protests, when he attended a vigil over the weekend for dead passengers in the demolition of a passenger plane. last week.
“It is not acceptable for us to see that the British ambassador left the embassy and participated in an illegal meeting, filmed it and played a provocative role in its continuation,” Esmaili told reporters in Iran on Tuesday. “This person is persona non grata. . . while people’s expectations and international regulations require expulsion. “
Mr. Esmaili said that the final decision on the expulsion of Mr. Macaire, the expected diplomatic outcome for a person considered a non-grata person, would be taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, but “as far as we are concerned, he he is persona non grata “and the Islamic Republic” can expel him. “
Macaire denied his participation in the protests and said on Sunday that he had attended a vigil for the victims of the plane crash, but that he left when a group began to sing.
Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Secretary, told the House of Commons that the United Kingdom had received “no formal indication” that Mr. Macaire could be expelled.
“I think it would be very unfortunate if that were the case,” Raab told parliamentarians. “We need to keep diplomatic channels open and, therefore, useless gestures like that will not solve the problems facing the regime in Tehran.”
Other pending diplomatic disputes between the United Kingdom and Iran include the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian national double, imprisoned in Tehran since 2016. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 42-year-old employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was convicted under spying charges, what she has denied.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The declaration of the Iranian judiciary came when the United Kingdom, France and Germany activated a dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, and Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, reiterated his call to the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to seek a new nuclear agreement with Corrí.
Since the United States moved away from the Iranian nuclear agreement in 2018, Tehran has intensified its atomic activity, while pressing the signatories of the EU, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, to find ways to counter the impact of US sanctions .
Tehran’s main concern is its ability to sell its oil, the livelihood of the economy, as US sanctions have reduced its exports from about 2.8 million barrels per day in May to less than 500,000 b / d.
The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the most powerful general in Iran, of the United States this month, has increased tensions in the Middle East, which has led to attacks with Iranian missiles at bases in Iraq that house US troops and subject the nuclear agreement existing at more pressure.
The instability in Iran increased even more on Saturday when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard admitted that it had mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian International Airlines flight that crashed shortly after Tehran’s takeoff last week, killing all 176 people on board.
While thousands of Iranians, including students from the best universities, took to the streets all weekend across the country to protest the tragic incident, Macaire was seen outside the Amirkabir University of Technology in downtown Tehran and then was arrested briefly.
In a sign of the growing diplomatic tensions between the United Kingdom and Iran, Esmaili compared the United Kingdom with the United States, describing both countries as “bloodthirsty.”
“They want revenge,” he said. “During the floods [last year], prevented international aid from reaching Iran. If they liked the Iranians, they would not have committed this crime. ”
Charles Hollis, a former British diplomat in Tehran and now managing director of Falanx Assynt, a geopolitical risk consultant, said life would be very difficult for Macaire now that the Iranian judiciary had pointed it out.
“The hope would have been to keep [his] Lower your head and wait for everything to end, but the uncompromising have rethought their position and can make it more difficult for moderate elements to resist taking any action against him, ”he said. “The fact that he has been cited as undesirable by the hard-line elements of the judiciary puts him at greater risk.”