Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran on Sunday, as Iran did the same in London.
Persian language graffiti scrawled in 2011 is still marked in red on the lime green walls of the British embassy in Tehran. Above the portrait of the queen is written: ‘Death to the English.’
In Tehran, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond was in attendance to mark the occasion. In London, former foreign secretary Jack Straw did the honors at the reopening of the Iranian embassy in South Kensington.
The moves come four years after the UK embassy was trashed by a mob in November 2011. Among the rioters were members of the brutal Basij Iranian militia force.
Hammond told reporters in Iran there is a “huge appetite” from UK businesses who wish to invest and create conditions for British banks to finance trade deals with Tehran. Also in attendance in Tehran, in fact, was a trade delegation, and the exchequer secretary to the treasury, Damian Hinds. The officials are hoping to discuss possible future trade opportunities during their visit.
The low-key ceremony heralds a renewal of economic and other ties between Iran and Europe. It came in response to the agreement last month between Iran and U.S.-led world powers on a nuclear deal that eventually will lift sanctions from the Islamic Republic.
Foreign ministers from Italy, France and Germany have all been to Iran already. Most of Europe, in fact, has diplomatic relations in Tehran.
Despite America having led the efforts to arrange the agreement, Tehran has given the United States a cold shoulder.
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif told reporters on Sunday the “illogical attitude” of the United States towards Iran means the time is not yet ripe for a similar move with Washington DC.
“It seems that there needs to be a change in that kind of attitude and behavior on the part of the U.S.,” Zarif said. “So the situation is different with the U.S.”
In the early days of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian students destroyed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and seized hostages, whom they held for 444 days. Diplomatic ties have been frozen since that time.
President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any measure from the Congress that moves to disapprove the nuclear deal. If Obama’s veto is not overturned by the Congress, he will have succeeded in launching the process of lifting a wealth of sanctions that have choked the Iranian economy and helped to hold back its nuclear weapons development.