Ireland is to re-open an embassy in Tehran before the end of 2023, the Government has decided.
The previous post in Iran was shuttered during a round of cost-cutting in 2012, and, despite moves to deepen diplomatic and business relations at different junctures during the intervening period, it has remained closed.
During that time, consular services for Iran were covered by the Irish embassy to Turkey, located in Ankara.
While it will take around two years to re-open the embassy in Tehran, an Irish Charges D’Affairs will be placed in the German embassy in Iran immediately. The embassy in Ankara will retain secondary accreditation to Iran, while an honorary consul based in Tehran will continue in his role and retain responsibility for consular matters in the interim.
The cabinet today approved a proposal by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. It is understood that the rationale for re-opening the embassy includes Ireland’s election as a member of the UN security council.
Ireland is facilitator of the 2231 security council resolution, which oversees the implementation of a 2015 deal struck on Iran’s nuclear programme. This agreement, which was signed by the US, Russia, China, Germany, France and the UK put limits on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for relief of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
The Trump administration withdrew from the deal, which had been brokered by the Obama administration, after Donald Trump claimed it failed to curtail Iran’s missile programme. The cooling in relations between the US and Iran also proved a headwind for Irish companies who had been hoping to establish trade relations with Iran, which is seen as offering a major growth opportunity for companies exporting goods such as medical devices and agricultural products.
The Iranian population is young, relatively wealthy and well-educated, while President of Iran Hassan Rouhani is seen as more outward-looking than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
With the new Biden administration promising to re-engage with the nuclear deal, there are hopes of a thaw in relations. Sources indicated that Ireland’s role as facilitator of the agreement will see Irish diplomats urging all parties to re-engage with the deal, which may be helped by the immediate co-location in the German embassy, as that country is a signatory to the deal.
Ministers were also told the re-opened embassy will enable Ireland to understand Iranian thinking, in the context of the Irish role on the security council.