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Iranian lawmakers: Cut ties with Britain

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iranians angered by UK ambassador's criticism of Iran's human rights record
  • Envoy said he wanted to cast light on those deprived of fundamental freedoms
  • Lawmakers will discuss a bill that would sever diplomatic ties

(CNN) -- Angered by a British envoy's criticism of Iran's human rights record, Iran is considering severing ties between the two countries, Iranian media said.

"It is time we gave a decisive response to Britain and showed that the Iranian nation will not remain indifferent to such clear insults and flagrant interferences," lawmaker Aziz Akbarian told the semi-official Fars News Agency on Wednesday.

The Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission approved a bill Sunday that would cut diplomatic ties. It was submitted for approval to the full parliament Tuesday.

Simon Gass, the British ambassador in Tehran, wrote on International Human Rights Day earlier this month that the British government will continue to draw attention to people who "are deprived of their fundamental freedoms."

It is time we gave a decisive response to Britain and showed that the Iranian nation will not remain indifferent to such clear insults and flagrant interferences.
--Lawmaker Aziz Akbarian
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iran
  • United Kingdom

"International Human Rights Day is highlighting the cases of those people around the world who stand up for the rights of others -- the lawyers, journalists and (humanitarian) workers who place themselves at risk to defend their countrymen," Gass said.

"Nowhere are they under greater threat than in Iran."

Iranian officials called Gass's comments outrageous.

Mehdi Koochakzadeh, a member of parliament, called on Iran's foreign ministry to expel the ambassador "so that the dignity of the Iranian nation is not undermined," according to the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

In another diplomatic squabble, the Guardian newspaper cited confidential cables posted on the WikiLeaks website that revealed Britain's consideration of limiting Iran's state-run Press TV. That came after Britain accused Iran of jamming the signals of the BBC's Persian service.

The cables said Britain was "exploring ways to limit the operations" of Press TV, including adding it to the international sanctions slapped on Iran over its nuclear program, according to the Guardian.

"However, UK law sets a very high standard for denying licenses to broadcasters," the cable said.

"Licenses can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a license would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently, neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months, a case may be able to be made on the second criterion."

 
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