Tehran, Aug 20 Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, the spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards, rejected British demands for the return of military boats and equipment seized by Iran, saying that Tehran is awaiting for further answers from London before making any decision.
Before taking any measure to return the equipment and boats to Britain, the Iranian party must be given suitable answers, Jazayeri told the local press in Tehran.
The latest snub from Tehran comes on a day when demonstrators again gathered outside the British embassy in the Iranian capital to chant anti-British slogans and threaten London for its role in desecrating the Shiite shrines in Iraq. Last week, a similar group of government-orchestrated demonstrators threw a bomb over the embassys wall as crowds chanted, We swear to our martyrs blood, Blair, we will kill you.
The Iranian regimes refusal to hand over the military equipment seized last June from eight British marines who were later released is the latest act of defiance in the rocky relationship between London and Tehran. It comes as a personal blow to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who rejected vociferous demands from both sides of the House of Commons for a firmer policy towards the Iranian regime and stuck with his constructive engagement approach to Tehran.
Back in June, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance revealed detailed information from its sources inside Iran to show that the seizure of the British servicemen on the Shatt-al-Arab waterway was engineered by the top brass of the Revolutionary Guards in a show of power a week ahead of the planned handover of sovereignty to the new provisional government in Iraq. The Foreign Office dismissed the Iranian oppositions disclosure and Mr. Straw warmly thanked his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharrazi, after the servicemens release, and said the sailors had been well-treated, even though they had been paraded in front of television cameras in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon later told the House of Commons that the released sailors accounts showed that they had been abducted by the Revolutionary Guards while they were still in Iraqi waters. The sailors also revealed that while in captivity, they had been forced into a shallow ditch, blindfolded, and led to believe that they would be shot dead.
Calls for a stronger policy on Iran have been growing increasingly louder in London. In an editorial on Thursday, August 19, the Daily Telegraph noted The British Government says it has no illusions about Iran's determination to become a nuclear weapons power, an admission which underlines the bankruptcy of its policy of constructive engagement.
Iran has long sought nuclear status as a means of achieving regional hegemony. But it also remains a power determined to export Islamic revolution worldwide, with the goal of destroying the liberal democracies, the paper added. America and its allies should leave the clerics in no doubt that they will not tolerate their possession of nuclear weapons. In such hands, they would pose a far greater threat than Iraq under Saddam Hussein.