Judge Stephen Phillips from the High Court in London ruled on Friday that the UK does not have to pay the sum that Iran believes has accrued on £387 million owed to Tehran over the failed delivery of more than 1,500 Chieftain tanks and armored vehicles based on contracts signed as of 1971, presstv Reported.
The judge said the interest was accumulated over a 10-year period when Iran was under sanctions. The ruling also asserted that there was still ambiguity for the UK to decide to which Iranian government body it should pay the main debt so that it could avoid current sanctions.
The ruling deals a fresh blow to efforts meant to reduce tensions between Iran and Britain as the two countries are locked in several disputes, including two recent ship seizure incidents and a high-profile legal case related to the imprisonment of several dual nationals.
Britain has repeatedly refrained from paying the debt it acknowledges it owes to Iran, citing illegal sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran.
Newly-appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson once briefed the journalists in February 2018 after a trip to Tehran as foreign minister that the money will be paid back.
However, the payment never took place to the irritation of Tehran which thinks London is trying to use the case to solve other problems, including the much-publicized imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British national who is in jail in Iran for espionage convictions.
The court ruling also comes amid renewed tensions in the Persian Gulf where Iran has refused to release a British tanker since it was seized last Friday for violation of maritime rules.
The incident came two weeks after British marine forces boarded a supertanker laden with Iranian oil near the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar.