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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:39 pm on 25th September 2019.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 5:39 pm, 25th September 2019

I pay tribute to the right hon. Lady for her long-standing interest in this area. I remember visiting Tehran under the former reformist regime of President Khatami when I was a Foreign Office lawyer before coming into this House, and working on behalf of the UK Government for a bilateral investment treaty. I am afraid that we have taken a significant series of steps back since those days, but it does show that there is a path for Iran to come in from the cold, to get international respectability and to prosper as a result of it.

In relation to the dual national cases and that of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, we need to be very careful. We are absolutely clear that Iran must release our dual nationals who have been detained on a whim unconditionally, and that there is no deal to be done—no linkage. As much as I would love to see all of the detainees reunited with their families, there would be acute moral hazard if we allowed ourselves to be blackmailed. All that we would find is that, shortly after the return of those detainees, a whole number more would be picked up; Iran would take the wrong lesson from our actions. We need to be very careful, and we will campaign unflinchingly and unwaveringly with our allies to secure the release of the detainees, but we must also be mindful of not creating the moral hazard to which I have referred.