UK policy towards Iran

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Series Details (2014-2015)HC547
Publication Date July 2014
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In a report published in July 2014 on the UK’s relationship with Iran, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons said that President Rouhani of Iran should, for now, be trusted as someone who is genuinely committed to a sustainable deal with the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (the P5+1) on Iran’s nuclear programme. His clear electoral mandate and his background as a regime insider give him authority and credibility at the highest levels within Iran. But he is a pragmatist who hopes to get sanctions lifted, and not necessarily a reformist, and he should be judged by his actions and not by his words.

The Committee endorsed the UK’s participation in negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme, and it recognised that there is probably no prospect of a lasting deal which does not allow Iran to enrich uranium. But Iran’s capacity to enrich should be limited, so that it would need at least six months if it were to decide to push ahead and produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb: enough time for others to detect what was happening and to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

The Committee welcomed the FCO’s decision to reopen the Tehran Embassy. It accepted that the FCO had no choice in deciding to close it in November 2011, after it had been stormed by an Iranian mob. But the lack of direct UK diplomatic representation in Iran had hindered the UK’s ability to shape events, gather information and build the personal contacts which are essential to constructive diplomatic relations. The Committee heard that the 'prolonged period of silence' had made the UK less visible in the country and that other countries were now looked at as better choice partners in international relations.

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Related Links
United Kingdom: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee: News, 14.07.14: UK policy towards Iran report published
ESO: Background information: Iran: MEPs call for an EU strategy beyond the nuclear file
ESO: Background information: Catherine Ashton in landmark bridge-building trip to Iran
EU: EEAS: Iran

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