Britain & Iran appoint ambassadors for first time since 2011

Nicholas Hopton © Twitter
London has appointed an ambassador to Iran for the first time since 2011, when the British embassy in Tehran was stormed by students protesting against Western sanctions.

Britain named Nicholas Hopton, the current charge d'affaires in Tehran, as its ambassador to the Islamic Republic. Hopton has previously served as the British ambassador to Qatar and Yemen.

The move signals a continued thawing in diplomatic relations after Iran and the P5+1 group signed an historic deal curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

Iran has announced the appointment of Hamid Baeidinejad as the country’s new envoy to London.

In November 2011, Iranian lawmakers voted to downgrade the country’s diplomatic relationship with Britain and expel the ambassador in response to the sanctions imposed on the Iranian economy.

Britain’s embassy in Tehran was reopened last summer, a month after the signing of the nuclear accord during a visit by then-Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. The two countries have been engaging diplomatically at the charge d’affaires level over the last year.

“The upgrade in diplomatic relations gives us the opportunity to develop our discussions on a range of issues, including our consular cases about which I am deeply concerned,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement, referring to the continued detention of two dual nationals who were arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in April.

“I hope this will mark the start of more productive cooperation between our countries, enabling us to discuss more directly issues such as human rights and Iran’s role in the region, as well as ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal and the expansion of the trading relationship between both our countries,” Johnson added.

This follows the resumption of direct British Airways flights between London and Tehran last week after a four-year hiatus.