New Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on Iran slated as a political exercise to support a bad deal for UK security


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The Henry Jackson Society, which provided evidence for the report, says: “The Committee and by extension Parliament is failing to ask the right questions with sufficient force in advance of the deadline for the interim deal with Iran next week.”

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report “UK policy towards Iran”, to be released tomorrow, explicitly references evidence from The Henry Jackson Society throughout, and appears to be conceived as a supportive backdrop to UK diplomacy in advance of the expiration of the six month interim deal with Iran next week.

A nuclear Iran is an unacceptable security threat to the United Kingdom, the United States and our allies. It would enable the intensification beyond challenge of Iran’s sponsorship of terror and instability across the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as closer to home. It would spur a nuclear arms race in the world’s most unstable region, now all but guaranteed given the religious civil war that has come into focus and the attendant Saudi and Egyptian perceptions of a “Shia” bomb. Recent history clearly shows the direct effect on our security of these developments which though not initially aimed at the UK directly will rapidly and with certainty make the world an unacceptably dangerous and unstable place for the UK’s vital interests.

Diplomacy must be the preferred route to ensure our security against this threat, but it is not sufficiently clear that the deal being negotiated in deliberate secrecy covers the UK’s security needs. Neither Parliament nor the US Congress have been kept sufficiently abreast of the negotiations over what the UK Government considers one of the most pressing threats against our security.

The Foreign Affairs Committee report thus presents a missed opportunity to interrogate the process, and whilst it contains a number of important statements about UK policy goals and Iranian violations, it fails largely to follow these up with the attendant robust consequences and conclusions for our policy-making apparatus.

We are extremely concerned about the structure of a proposed deal with Iran that relies so heavily on an inspections element, given Iran’s history of concealment and duplicity. As the North Korean precedent shows, real security is achieved only if a deal consists not just of easily abandoned inspection agreements, but real limitations to infrastructure.

As such we are alarmed in the extreme at the report’s reflection of a claim that a 10,000 centrifuge capacity for a post-agreement Islamic Regime would constitute an acceptable number to ensure they could not break out and build a weapon. This number is wildly inaccurate and irresponsible to publish, as any expert unencumbered by sympathies for Iran will agree. Though no enrichment is the preferred solution, the number of centrifuges in any deal must be less than 1,500, preferably no more than 1,000. These details matter immensely to the UK’s national security after any deal is struck.

In light of the political exercise this report appears to present, HJS stresses in the strongest possible terms that there can be no equivocation when it comes to the threat a nuclear Iran would pose to the United Kingdom and that no deal is better than a bad, limited, unverifiable one that leaves Iran’s capabilities latently intact.


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