Iran Nuclear Deal

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:48 pm on 8th May 2019.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay 12:48 pm, 8th May 2019

It is now a year since the US Government unilaterally withdrew from the joint comprehensive plan of action, better known as the Iranian nuclear deal. The Trump Administration have recently announced the forthcoming expansion of oil sanctions to all countries that buy oil from Iran, and have dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

This morning, the Iranian Government announced that they are suspending key parts of the 2015 deal, citing the effect of US sanctions against their economy. Among other actions, Iran has stated that it will keep stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water rather than selling them on the international market, but it has threatened to resume production of enriched uranium in 60 days if the other signatories to the Iran deal—UK, France, China, Germany and Russia—do not plot a way forward to help the Iranian economy to withstand the effects of the US oil and financial sanctions.

It does not take me to remind the Minister that reaching the deal took broadly 10 years of diplomacy. At the time, it helped to avert a regional conflict; the House will remember how close the US, the UK and Israel came to military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities in 2012. You will remember, Mr Speaker, that I led a Backbench Business debate on the issue at the time, in which I called for more diplomacy and less sabre-rattling. The House should also remember that the United Nations has made it clear that as far as it is concerned, Iran has abided by the deal—this is a unilateral action by the US.

I ask the Minister what else the Government can do to ensure the continuance of this important nuclear non-proliferation treaty, because whatever they are doing is clearly not succeeding at this point. I do not think that I am alone in believing that if the deal fails, there is a real chance of nuclear proliferation across the region. If that happened, I doubt whether there would be any winners in the conflict.

I will add one further point. Yes, we know that Iran is up to no good with some of its other activities in the region—terrorist activities and so forth. In diplomacy, however, going from imperfection to perfection in international relationships cannot be done in one bound; it is a series of small steps. The important thing is to head in the right direction. If the deal is allowed to fail, it will make for conflict in the region and possibly an escalation of nuclear capabilities. That would be bad news not just for the region, but for the world. The Foreign Office has to do more to use its diplomacy with regard to the US.