Iran

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 15th June 2021.

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Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

What recent assessment he has made of Iran’s compliance with the 2015 joint comprehensive plan of action nuclear agreement.

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

Iran is systematically in non-compliance with the joint comprehensive plan of action—the JCPOA—and, working with our European partners and with the United States, China and Russia, we expect and require a return to full compliance.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

The UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran is now producing uranium at levels that “only countries making bombs” are reaching, after successfully enriching to 60% purity. Given that this knowledge cannot be unlearned, does my right hon. Friend share my concern that Iran’s nuclear activities already extend far beyond the outdated JCPOA? What steps will he be taking to address not only Iran’s nuclear belligerence but its support for terrorism and the ballistic missile programme?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is not just the stockpile of enriched uranium, which is 16 times the permitted limit, but the operation of the centrifuges and the production of uranium metal that are of deep concern. All sides agree that Iran must return to full compliance, and there has been some progress in the talks in Vienna, but a successful outcome is far from guaranteed. Those talks cannot continue to be open-ended; we need to see a return to full compliance. My hon. Friend is also right to refer to the need for “longer and stronger”, as it is dubbed, to ensure not just that we have permanent guarantees in relation to the nuclear issue but that we address the destabilising activity that Iran sponsors. I have just got back from Iraq, where we can see at first hand the support for the Shi’a militias and what that means in practice.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Sub-Committee, Chair, Defence Sub-Committee

May I first pay tribute to the work of the HALO Trust, a British charity and the largest de-mining organisation working in Afghanistan? Tragically, 10 of its team were killed in an ISIS attack a week ago. James Cowan, the CEO, has vowed to continue their important work, and I hope that the Government will encourage the Afghan Government to improve local security so that the HALO Trust can continue that important work.

In the 1970s, we attempted to sell 100 Chieftain tanks to Iran. We took the money—£400 million—but following Iranian revolution, the tanks were of course never delivered. We need to repay that debt, because it is starting to interfere with other bilateral issues. I invite my right hon. Friend to speak to Tony Blinken, because this is to do with legacy sanctions and we need to resolve the issue.

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

I pay tribute not just to the work of the HALO Trust—I extend my condolences for the loss of life—but to all the non-governmental organisation workers on the frontline who take extraordinary risks to do incredible work.

On the International Military Services debt to which my right hon. Friend referred, we have always said that we are committed to resolving that issue. I shall not say more at this point because legal discussions are ongoing and I do not want to prejudice them.

Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I join Mr Ellwood in sending our thoughts and best wishes to the victims of the terrible attack on the HALO Trust staff in Afghanistan. Ten people were murdered and many more injured, and I am sure the whole House would want to send best wishes and sympathies.

The proposed plan to increase the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads has made it abundantly clear that the Government have ditched multilateralism and embraced unilateralism. Such a reckless move is out of step with all our allies and will have a big impact on our ability to participate in nuclear non-proliferation agreements such as the JCPOA with Iran. What impact does the Foreign Secretary think the proposed increase in warheads will have on our international standing, given that we appear to have abandoned our obligations under article 6 of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty? Will he recommit to those obligations today?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that the maintenance of a minimum credible deterrence has zero impact on the JCPOA talks and is entirely consistent with our non-proliferation obligations.