Situation in the Gulf

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 5:06 pm, 22nd July 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He gives me the chance to say that as a member of a naval family I lived for a couple of years in Rosyth, so I, too, along with everyone on the Government Benches, thank the naval officers and their families for the great courage and service that they are showing to our country at a very challenging and worrying time.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. We understand from Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, that she has been moved back to Evin prison in Tehran. We think that is a positive sign. It sounds like the way that she was detained for a week without any access to her family was totally unacceptable and, I am afraid, all too predictable from the Iranian regime. The hon. Gentleman will understand that I am seeking not to make any link between these broader military and security issues and the situation that Nazanin faces, because I do not think that would help to get Nazanin home, but I know that the whole House is absolutely clear that, whatever disagreements we have with Iran, an innocent woman must not be the victim. She must be allowed to come home.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the Iran nuclear deal. This is an area where the Trump Administration have a genuine and honest difference of opinion with us, because it is not a perfect deal. It was a deal that allowed sanctions relief for Iran but did not prevent Iran from supporting its proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. It allowed Iran to carry on destabilising the region, which was why the Trump Administration took the course that they did. However, given that four years ago Iran was 18 months away from acquiring a nuclear weapon, we feel it is a huge diplomatic achievement that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon today. The middle east would have been much more dangerous had it acquired a nuclear weapon, which is why we are seeking to preserve the deal. We are being clear to the Iranians that the recent breach of the uranium enrichment levels is not acceptable, but we are giving them the space to bring themselves back into compliance with the JCPOA before we formally pull the plug on it. We hope that they will do so.