Iran

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st March 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Parliamentary Private Secretary To the Leader of the Opposition 2:30 pm, 31st March 2009

What recent assessment he has made of the state of UK relations with Iran; and if he will make a statement.

Watch this
Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website

Hide

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The UK desires a constructive relationship with Iran, based on mutual respect. However, we have significant concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, its regional activity and internal repression. Unacceptable harassment of staff in Tehran has forced the British Council to suspend its operations, which has obstructed the legitimate activities of our embassy. We have protested to Iran on numerous occasions, and we regret that it has done nothing to address the situation.

Watch this

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Parliamentary Private Secretary To the Leader of the Opposition

The Minister did not draw attention to the fact that Iranian activity has been responsible for the deaths of our servicemen in Iraq—and now, particularly, in Afghanistan. What are we going to do, other than merely protest?

Watch this

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

We make our views very clear to the Iranian Government. We also interdict the forces coming from Iran. The message that needs to go out from all of us—it is part of the message that President Obama is sending the Iranian regime—is that we want Iran to be a responsible international partner. Fuelling terrorism and fighting in the region does nothing whatever to further that end.

Watch this

Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Chair, Transport Committee

What representations has my hon. Friend made to Iran following Israel's interception of Iranian missiles that could reach Tel Aviv? They were being transported across Sudan to be smuggled into Gaza.

Watch this

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The reports have not yet been confirmed; nevertheless, a constant refrain of our dialogue with the Iranian regime is that such activities, wherever they occur, are not only wrong but move us further away from the peaceful outcome that we all want in the region.

Watch this

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

We are right to be very concerned about Iranian nuclear ambitions; so, too, are the Government of Israel. However, does the hon. Gentleman accept that it is important that we should stress to Mr. Netanyahu and the Israeli Government that their interests are best served by working in concert with the United States and the European Union, rather than by contemplating any unilateral action on their own part?

Watch this

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

I very much agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement. There is a shared interest, and all our interests are served by our presenting the Iranian Government with that choice—a choice between engagement, with all the political and economic benefits that that can bring, and much tougher sanctions imposed on behalf of the whole international community.

Watch this