In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Iran’s Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad censured Woody Johnson for pressuring the UK companies into choosing trade ties with either Iran or the US when Washington’s anti-Tehran sanctions return in place.
“Such threatening and bullying rhetoric on the part of a businessman, whose grandfather’s Johnson & Johnson [company] had been for years active in Iran even during the sanctions era, amounts to blatant hypocrisy,” Baeidinejad said.
Johnson had said in a tweet on October 22 that, “Companies have a choice: Do business with #Iran or with the US - you can’t do both. Sanctions come into effect Nov 4.”
The Iranian envoy to London, however, replied, “It is not companies that must choose between the US and Iran; it is that the US can either abandon the JCPOA and violate international law--continuing to lose credibility--or return to the accord and uphold an international agreement, which itself has signed.
The JCPOA is an acronym for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the US unilaterally scrapped in May despite objections from the other signatories to the multilateral nuclear accord, including the UK.
In August, the US administration re-imposed the first round of sanctions on Iran, with the second phase due to come into effect early next month, targeting the country's oil exports.
Besides re-imposing the anti-Iran sanctions it had lifted under the deal, the Trump administration has also been seeking to discourage the European firms from doing business with Iran by threatening them with penalties.
Back in August, Johnson wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph, where he called on the UK to side with Trump on Iran or risk "serious trade consequences" for UK businesses.
"America is turning up the pressure and we want the UK by our side. It is time to move on from the flawed 2015 deal," he wrote.
Despite the American withdrawal, Iran stayed in the deal but stressed that the other parties to the agreement now had to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they wanted Tehran to continue to remain in it.
Europe has been taking a range of measures to protect their firms against the upcoming US bans.