An Era of Change

Posted 4th September 2015

Just under 2 weeks ago, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was in the Iranian capital to re-open the British embassy after 4 years of closure. In the re-opening ceremony, Mr Hammond said that ‘Britain and Iran wouldn’t always agree, but that there was no limit to what they could achieve now that they both had embassies again in each others capitals.’

The first UK foreign secretary to visit Iran since Jack Straw in 2003, the re-opening of the embassy in Tehran marks just one example of the wider changes happening throughout Iran.

The election of Hassan Rouhani as president in June 2013, is thought to be a major factor in steadily improving Iran’s relations with the west.

During his electoral campaign, Rouhani’s more moderate approach to politics resonated with Iranians who had seen their country’s reputation and living standards decline. With the campaign slogan ‘moderation and prudence’, Rouhani was believed not to be the first choice of Ayatollah Khamenei. However, the sheer number of people backing Rouhani’s campaign and his promise to sort out the nuclear problem (without toppling the whole system) meant that the Ayatollah eventually announced Rouhani as president.

In July 2015, Rouhani’s election pledge to sort out the nuclear problem came one step closer to being fulfilled. After 12 years of stalemate, the potential nuclear deal reached will surely usher in a new era of improved relations.

The deal involves Iran accepting caps on its nuclear programme in return for the relief of sanctions made by the west. Despite Rouhani’s belief that the nuclear problem has been fulfilled, the agreement must survive the scrutiny of a 60-day review period in Washington before it’s approved. Barack Obama has promised to veto any attempts by his Republican opponents to undermine this agreement.

Meanwhile, steps in the right direction have further been made in the UK with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) changing their advice offered to British nationals traveling to Iran. The FCO no longer advises against ‘all but necessary travel’ to most parts of the country, something that is thought to be the result of the recent nuclear agreement.

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Troglodytes & Assassins


Get off-the-beaten-track in Northwest Iran

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14 days
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