LONDON: Britain is reassessing its backing of the Iran nuclear deal after Tehran executed a British Iranian dual national, drawing strong condemnation from Western governments.
Alireza Akbari, 61, was hanged after being convicted of “corruption on earth and harming the country’s internal and external security by passing on intelligence.” When or where the execution took place is unknown.
The execution has led to a huge escalation in tensions between the West and Iran, which were already running high over Tehran’s crackdown on protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and the regime’s military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The UK has been a key player in talks on reviving the nuclear deal, which placed significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Senior government sources said that the “landscape” has changed significantly since the negotiation process began and as such Britain is now reviewing its options regarding future involvement in reviving the deal, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
They said the relationship with Tehran has been under pressure in recent months because of the regime’s harsh repression of anti-government protests.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he was “appalled” by the execution.
“This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people,” Sunak said.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned that the execution would not go unchallenged, before announcing sanctions on Iran’s prosecutor general to underline Britain’s “disgust.”
Britain said it would summon Tehran’s envoy and in response, Iran summoned the British ambassador to protest against what it described as “unconventional interventions.”
France’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the execution “in the strongest terms” and said that the killing “cannot go unanswered.” President Emmanuel Macron denounced Akbari’s execution as a “heinous and barbaric act.”
Tehran has been accused of using the talks as cover to ramp up work on its nuclear program with a view to obtaining a bomb — a charge that it denies.