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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

I thank the hon. Gentleman and welcome his condemnation of the conduct of the Government of Iran, including their non-compliance with the JCPOA and their treatment of our ambassador in Tehran. As I have said, it is important to maintain transatlantic unity and solidarity, and this House must also give the regime in Iran a very clear signal that we stand together on these important issues.

As I have said, I raised the issue of dual nationals, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, with Foreign Minister Zarif when I spoke to him. They remain at the centre and forefront of our thinking on Iran. We constantly, consistently and at every level raise both their welfare and the need for them to be released without conditions. They should not be held. They should be back home with their families.

The hon. Gentleman asked the obvious exam question: where do we go from here? He is right to say that we need to try to defuse the situation. We have been working with our international partners in Europe, the US and, crucially, in the region, to emphasise the absolute importance of de-escalating the tensions, particularly to avoid military conflagration. That would only benefit Daesh and the other terrorist groups in the region, and I think there is consistency of agreement on that point. There must be accountability where there is wrongdoing, whether that relates to the treatment of foreign nationals or ensuring that the JCPOA is complied with, if the JCPOA is to be a credible means of dealing with the nuclear issue. We must work with all our international partners and show unity of purpose so that, given the political climate in Tehran that the hon. Gentleman described, there is no doubt about the international community’s approach to Iran’s current behaviour.

Notwithstanding all that, the diplomatic door must be left open, because the only way to de-escalate permanently, which I think was the phrase the hon. Gentleman used, is to find a diplomatic solution to all the issues, from nuclear activity to Iran’s destabilising actions in the region and, of course, the dual nationals and the many other bilateral issues. We have been clear and consistent that that choice is there for the Iranian regime to make. It can slip further into isolation, with all the ensuing consequences for the people of Iran, or it can choose to come through the diplomatic door and sit at the negotiating table, which is the only way that all the issues will be resolved over the long term.