Portugal suspends visas to Iranians
Portugal has suspended the issuance of entry visas for Iranian nationals for unspecified security reasons (see update below).
Say reports, foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said yesterday (Tuesday) that the move was not related to bilateral relations between the two countries.
Quizzed during a parliamentary committee on whether the move should have been taken, Santos Silva said: “I will provide explanations later, but not publicly.
“Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory”, he added, “without disclosing when the decision was taken”, writes Reuters – suggesting further down in its short text that the move dates back by at least two weeks.
Santos Silva however did tell reporters after the committee meeting that the suspension is temporary. “We hope to resume very shortly”, he added.
“No one was available for comment at the Iranian embassy in Lisbon”, concludes the international news agency with headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf.
Here, Observador reports that the decision stemmed from “operating conditions in the (Portuguese) consular section in Tehran” and had “nothing to do with security issues”.
In the wider sphere, Iran has been in the news for a multiplicity of reasons, all of them increasing tensions with the West: the country has been cited over attacks on oil tankers and has threatened retaliation over the seizure of one of its own tankers by British forces off Gibraltar on July 4.
On Monday, Iran warned that it would “further reduce its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal” which has been interpreted as a heightened threat to world peace.
Tuesday saw the UK “send another major warship to the Persian Gulf”, reports Sky News, taking the British deployment to the area to three frigates, one destroyer and four minesweepers.
The Ministry of Defence has said the movements were a planned deployment – part of the longstanding Operation Kipion – and “not related to the current tensions with Iran”.
But Sky News defence and security correspondent Alistair Bunkall has said: “Just try telling Tehran that.”
By lunchtime today, the ‘reason’ behind the move had been made public: an Iranian employee at the embassy was shot “in the vicinity of the diplomatic building” in March.
Say reports, the incident was such that it led authorities to believe there was a breach in security.
The attack appears to have been ‘a personal matter’ (ie unrelated to embassy business), and the employee is described as recovering from his injuries.
The shooting took place as the employee was leaving the embassy, explained foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva today. It appears to have been instigated by someone riding a motorbike.