"British travellers to Iran face greater risks than nationals of most other countries" Is this Foreign Office statement true?
I'm an international relations student looking to travel across the Middle East (probably not until 2012 though), Iran has been one of my main areas of study so ideally I would like to go there, however the British Foreign Office advice is not particularly positive. Is this the FCO being over-cautious or would people advice against British travellers touring Iran?
Yes it's true. You know how some countries "hate" the USA, well Iran "hates" the UK. In 2009 the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared Britain the "most evil" of western nations.
The two have been going at each other since the Iranian revolution. There was a dispute over an arms sale that fell through when the Shah was deposed and it's only just been resolved in The Hague (Britain owes Iran $650million).
Iran captured a dozen Royal Navy sailors a few years back, the two countries regularly expel each other's diplomats. The UK government was very critical of the last presidential election and the human rights record in Iran. In return Iran suspects any British citizen in the country of being a "spy".
Does that mean they'll hunt you down and make things uncomfortable for you.... not really. But if you do something that brings you to their attention, being British will make it worse. So, keep your head down, don't upset anyone and perhaps tell everyone (not officials) you're Australian (maybe you'd prefer 20 years in a stinking Iranian jail cell rather than stooping to that! he he he).
Just be aware, if you do get into strife, British embassy officials won't be able to help. Relations between the two nations are so poor that essentially there are no consular services for Britons in Iran - you'll really be on your own, and that's not good.
And while I'm here... worldnomads has some great tips on travel safety in Iran here:
Phil from the safety hub almost 9 years ago