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Iran

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 13th January 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 3:31 pm, 13th January 2020

My right hon. Friend makes a range of powerful points, and I pay tribute to him for his experience in this area. He is right to say that there is a pattern of behaviour by the regime in Iran, which is flouting the basic rules of international law and not living up to the kind of conduct we would expect from any Government who want to be a responsible member of the international community. We have seen that on the nuclear side and with the announcement in the first week of January of further non-compliance in relation to some centrifuges. We have seen it in the destabilising activity for which General Soleimani was in large part responsible when he was alive, and we have seen it in the treatment of dual nationals—in particular, but not limited to, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. We have seen it not just in the treatment of our ambassador in Iran but, more importantly, in the downing of the Ukrainian flight.

There must be some accountability for that wrongdoing. We welcome Iran’s first step in acknowledging responsibility, but there must now be a full, thorough investigation into what happened, with an international component so that people can have faith and confidence in that process. At the same time, while we keep up the pressure and insist on accountability on the nuclear front and in relation to the airline, we also want to be clear that the diplomatic door is ajar. This is something that the US President and the French President have made clear, and this Government certainly fully support a diplomatic way through to de-escalating the tensions and seeking a long-term diplomatic resolution of all the outstanding issues.

My right hon. Friend mentioned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran has now systematically failed to comply with the JCPOA. We are clear that we still support it. We have not signed up for the doctrine of maximum pressure. At the same time, the JCPOA has effectively been left a shell of an agreement because of systematic steps by Iran, taking it out of compliance. For it to be made to work, Iran must make a choice that it wants to come back to compliance and to the diplomatic negotiating table.

Finally, my right hon. Friend asked about the conversations we have had with our partners. I have spoken to Foreign Minister Zarif and I was in Brussels last week for meetings with the E3 and High Representative Josep Borrell. Indeed, I also saw them last night in Paris for further discussion. I was also in the US last week to talk to Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. It is very important that we maintain transatlantic unity, because while we leave the diplomatic door ajar to the regime in Iran, we want to be absolutely crystal clear that the message it receives from the UK, the Europeans and the US is the same—namely, that there is a route forward for the Iranian Government and, most importantly, the Iranian people, if Iran takes steps to comply with the basic tenets of international law.