Britain's troubled relations with Iran have become further strained by a row about an ancient Persian artefact described as the world's first charter of human rights.
The British Museum is refusing to honour an agreement to lend the Cyrus cylinder to Iran because of the political turmoil that has gripped the country since the violently disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.
The Iranian authorities have responded by threatening to sever links with the British Museum if it delays lending the 2,500-year-old cylinder, which was ordered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great to enshrine religious toleration.
Persian scholars claim the museum is right to be wary of lending the cylinder because of attempts by antisemitic historians in Iran to attack Cyrus's reputation as the father of the Iranian nation.
On a visit to Tehran's Museum of Iran this week, Hamid Baqaie, vice president of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, said: "The British Museum implies the post-election political situation in Iran as its main excuse not to loan the cylinder to Iran's National Museum."
He added: "If the British Museum continues to make excuses for not loaning the artefact to the National Museum, we will, unfo... >>>
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