Iranian officials have expressed outrage over the Russian and British ambassadors' recreation of an iconic World War II photo taken during the Soviet-British occupation of the Islamic republic in 1943.
Russia’s Embassy in Tehran posted a photo Wednesday at the site of the Tehran conference where Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met to discuss military strategies against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
“Ambassador Levan Dzhagaryan's meeting with the new head of the British diplomatic mission in Iran Simon Shercliff on the historical stair where the 1943 Tehran conference was held,” the photo caption said.
The Soviet Union and Britain invaded neutral Iran in 1941 to secure key supply routes amid the Nazi advance in the Caucasus. Soviet, British and U.S. troops withdrew from Iran in 1946.
Users responding to the photo on Twitter called it an “insult,” an echo of “colonialism” and a sign of plans for “regime change” in Iran.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned Dzhagaryan to protest the photo, Iran's state-run Press TV broadcaster reported Thursday.
Iranian parliament speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qaibaf warned of “firm” retaliation unless Moscow, which maintains friendly ties with Iran, apologizes.
“Both ambassadors must swiftly issue an official apology, otherwise firm diplomatic action will be necessary,” the Parliament chief,” Press TV quoted Qaibaf as saying.
Iran’s outgoing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif derided the Russian-British photo op as “extremely inappropriate.”
“Need I remind all that Aug. 2021 is neither Aug. 1941 nor Dec. 1943,” Zarif tweeted. “The Iranian people have shown [...] that their destiny can NEVER be subject to decisions in foreign embassies or by foreign powers.”
The Russian Embassy said Thursday that the photo op did not carry “any anti-Iranian context.”
“We were not going to offend the feelings of the friendly Iranian people,” it said on Twitter.
British Ambassador Shercliff retweeted the message.