Britain’s Foreign Minister Philip Hammond will formally reopen the UK embassy in Tehran this weekend almost four years after it was shut down following the attacks carried out by angry crowds who had opposed the imposition of sanctions on Iran.
The embassy will be opened in the wake of Iran’s rapid rapproachment with the West which imposed an agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear program.
The final agreement reached on July 14 between Iran and the P5+1 countries - including, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China, and the US - also pledged Tehran to lift the UN sanction regime that implemented after Iran's insistence on its nuclear programme since the Ahmedinejad presidency.
Hammond will be Britain's first foreign secretary to visit Iran in nearly 4 years and his visit follows visits from the French and Italian foreign ministers, Germany’s vice-chancellor and the EU’s foreign policy chief.
Hammond will be accompanied on his visit by business leaders and the Foreign Office's political director, Sir Simon Gass, who represented the UK during the nuclear talks with Iran.
The new UK ambassador to Tehran has been chosen but not yet officially announced by British authorities.
The residencies of the British ambassador in Tehran and other consolates have been renewed after the crowd attacks that led to the storming and ransacking of the buildings.
The mob attacks were organised by some hardliners including the members of the paramilitary basij brigades, under the control of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, in 2011.
It was expected for full diplomatic relations to be resumed soon after both sides declared the charges d’affaires two years ago. However some technical problems hinder this.
When British diplomats prepared to abandon the embassy, they cut off all communication and electronic devices. Now the UK wants to replace the hardware, but Iran limits diplomatic bags to 15 kg, therefore the move seems currently impossible for the British side.
The opening up of the Iranian market has created a new wave of competiton between European countries for investment. Britain was outpaced by its European competitors, pushing London to reopen its embassy in the country before it is fully equipped and rewired.
Jack Straw was the last British foreign secratery to visit Tehran in September 2001.
In the days following 9/11, both countries began to plan against their 'common enemy', the Taliban. Even though the 9/11 brought about brief rapproachment between Iran and the UK, resentment in iran against Britain due to latter's imperial past remained high.