Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 2nd March 2010.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 2:30 pm, 2nd March 2010

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise the issue at this time. Amnesty International says that it is the worst human rights situation for 20 years. The way in which the Iranian authorities attempted to quell protests during the national day celebrations has rightly been described as

"a chilling campaign of threats and intimidation".

We, in the context of the European Union and with our allies in the United Nations and the United States, constantly apply pressure to the Iranians about their human rights record and their nuclear file.

Frankly, we have reached out an olive branch to Iran. We have offered a diplomatic and political way forward but, instead of getting a positive response, we have seen a deterioration in internal human rights there. In addition, Iran has not co-operated in meeting its responsibilities under international obligations with regard to its nuclear weapons capacity. That is why we now believe that the only way forward is to consider tougher economic sanctions against Iran.