LONDON: Britain lifted an official warning against all but essential travel to Iran yesterday, citing “decreased hostility” in the wake of a landmark nuclear deal. Almost all of Iran is now marked “green” in the government’s foreign travel advice, though border areas with Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan remain “red”, a warning against all travel. In a statement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that British nationals should still carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran, but that the situation had changed under the government of President Hassan Rouhani. “Our policy is to recommend against travel to an area when we judge that the risk is unacceptably high,” Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.
“We consider that continues to be the case for specific areas of Iran, notably along Iran’s borders with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. “But we believe that in other areas of Iran the risk to British nationals has changed, in part due to decreasing hostility under President Rouhani’s government.” Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany reached a long-elusive agreement this month to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy. The British government has said it hopes to reopen its embassy in Tehran by the end of this year. It was closed in 2011 after being stormed by protesters. In another development, Iran hit out Friday against US Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing him of threatening military action against Tehran if it fails to respect a historic nuclear deal sealed on July 14. “Unfortunately the US Secretary of State once again talked about the rotten rope of ‘the ability of the US for using military force’,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a statement. Zarif decried what he called the “uselessness of such empty threats against the nation of Iran and the resistance of the nation of Iran”, and said such remarks should be consigned “to the last century”.
Despite the agreement reached with Iran on putting the nuclear bomb out of Tehran’s reach, several US officials, including Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, have signaled that military force remains on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Kerry and other American officials “have repeatedly admitted that these threats have no effect on the will of the people of Iran and that it will change the situation to their disadvantage,” Zarif claimed. “Therefore, it would be better for Americans to abandon their old habit and put aside once and for all their threatening language and sanctions against this great people,” he added. Under the July 14 agreement, Iran has agreed to dismantle or mothball much of its nuclear industry in return for an easing and eventual lifting of sanctions. World powers have called it a historic opportunity to set relations with Iran on a new path. — Agencies