Britain Urged to Apologize to Iran for Role in 1953 Coup
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A British journalist said that Iranians do not “discard history”, adding that Tehran-London relations may be fixed should Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond apologize for Britain’s part in the 1953 coup against the government of then Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.
In an article carried by The Guardian on August 20, Lindsey Hilsum wrote, “When the foreign secretary visits Tehran on Sunday to reopen the British embassy after a closure of nearly four years, he will doubtless talk of new beginnings. Now Iran has signed a deal limiting its nuclear programme, the way is clear for new business contracts, new opportunities, a new chapter. That approach may appeal to the British businesspeople on the trip, licking their lips at the prospect of selling oilfield equipment or financial services, but Iranians do not discard history so easily.”
Referring to Iran’s remembering of the anniversary of the 1953 coup against the government of Mohammad Mosaddeq on Thursday, she wrote, “The CIA has admitted its role, but Britain – which was determined to stop the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – has never acknowledged any involvement.”
She stressed, “If Philip Hammond were to stand in front of the newly opened embassy and apologize for Britain’s part in a coup that ushered in the brutal era of the Shah, that would go a long way towards a real mending of relations.”
On August 19, 1953, the British and US intelligence agencies orchestrated a coup that toppled Iran's then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq after he nationalized the country’s oil production, which had been under British control through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
His overthrow, which is still given as a reason for the Iranians’ mistrust of the UK and the US, consolidated the Shah’s rule for the following 26 years until the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, led by Imam Khomeini, which toppled the US-backed monarchy.
On Thursday, an informed source in Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed reports that British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is due in Tehran to reopen his country’s embassy in the Iranian capital.
A number of media outlets including Britain’s Guardian newspaper had reported earlier that Hammond will formally reopen the British embassy in Tehran this weekend.
“Hammond will be accompanied on his visit by a handful of British business leaders as well as the Foreign Office political director, Sir Simon Gass, who represented Britain in the marathon talks leading up to the July nuclear agreement,” the newspaper wrote.
The source in the Iranian foreign ministry confirmed the reports, saying the reopening will take place during a visit by Hammond to Tehran on Sunday.
Following the successful conclusion of nuclear talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russian, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany), the British foreign secretary hoped that his country’s embassy would reopen in Tehran in the current year.
He will be Britain’s first top diplomat to visit the Iranian capital in nearly 14 years.
Iran and the sextet on July 14 reached a conclusion in Vienna, Austria, on a lasting nuclear agreement that would terminate all sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear energy program after coming into force.
Tehran-London relations became tense in 2011. On November 27 that year, a large number of Iranian lawmakers voted to downgrade diplomatic ties with Britain, following London’s decision to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.
Later, a group of angry Iranian students stormed the British embassy in Tehran and pulled down that country’s flag.
Following the incident, Britain withdrew its diplomatic staff from Tehran on November 30 and asked Iran’s diplomatic delegation in London to leave within 48 hours.
Iran and Britain agreed in October 2013 to appoint non-resident chargé d’affaires as a first step towards reopening their respective embassies.