The 75-minute Westminster Hall debate on the ‘Iranian Nuclear Programme’ featured important contributions from Dr Daniel Poulter MP, Neil Parish MP, and Mark Pritchard MP.
In his speech, Dr Daniel Poulter MP, a former Health Minister, underlined concerns for the Iranian regime’s history of supporting terror groups in the Middle East, stating: “Iran has a distasteful track record of supporting states that have supported acts of terrorism”.
He spoke at length about the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent increasing intransigence toward nuclear talks and his “unacceptable track record in terms of his behaviour towards the state of Israel”.
Mr Poulter contended: “The hon. Gentleman was right to highlight Iran’s lack of transparency, its obfuscation and its intransigence on its nuclear programme. He was also right to highlight the fact that the Supreme Leader’s attitude has become more hard-line in recent months. Similarly, he was right to highlight the fact that a deal for a deal’s sake is no good for the Middle East or the world as a whole. It is also no good in terms of the precedent it would set regarding attitudes in this country and more broadly, including in the United Nations, towards other extremist and potentially dangerous states in the Middle East and elsewhere”.
He further underlined Iran’s breaching of agreements and its conducting of nuclear tests with the “strong possibility of military intentions”.
Regarding transparency in Research and Development, Mr Poulter warned: “When we do not have enough transparency now—inspectors are not allowed access to documentation, military sites or scientists, so it is difficult to get a proper understanding of the current research base in Iran and the current state of affairs—it is all the more important to have more transparency, to inform any future, firm agreement with Iran, and to ensure that the agreement is future-proofed, not set in stone”.
He urged: “I hope that the Minister will reassure me and the House that such future-proofing will be a key component of any final deal”.
Concluding his speech, Mr Poulter affirmed: “I hope he [Minister] will also reassure us that, given the lack of transparency and the IAEA not being allowed access to documents, scientists and military sites, we can future-proof any agreement, particularly with regard to science and technological development as it affects nuclear technology, including centrifuges, that could be used for military purposes”.
Neil Parish MP drew attention to Prime Minister Cameron’s comment on Iran in 2012, where he said “The Regime’s claim that its nuclear programme is intended purely for civilian purposes is not remotely credible”. Mr Parish stated: “I am not convinced that too much has changed since”.
The MP for Tiverton and Honiton spoke of his fears that a bad nuclear deal with Iran would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East: “If we—the international community—sign a flawed agreement with Iran, that will most definitely lead to war, for the simple reason that Iran will produce a nuclear weapon. Many of the states in the Middle East—not just Israel—will want to follow suit, and all that we will have will be a huge proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East”.
Mr Parish asserted: “We in the international community must decide whether to sign a flawed agreement, brush everything under the carpet and allow Iran to increase its amount of enriched uranium—which will lead eventually, in however many years, to a nuclear weapon—or take more action now, however uncomfortable it might be, to sort out the situation so that we do not find ourselves in that position further down the road”.
Mark Pritchard MP made an intervention that highlighted Iran’s historically good relations with Jewish communities in contrast to its current stance towards Israel: “Does he agree…that the supreme leader, along with President Rouhani, would be better served by looking at Iran’s history? Great leaders from Persian history, such as King Darius and King Cyrus, supported the return of Jews from Persia to Jerusalem and helped to pay for the building of the Temple. That is real leadership, and it shows how to live in peace with Israel, rather than threaten it”.
Responding to the debate, Minister for Europe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Lidington MP assured the MPs: “We have to be confident that any deal is verifiable, durable and addresses our concerns fully”.
The Minister underlined: “I reiterate my strongest possible assurance on behalf of the whole Government that we will not do a bad deal. Any deal must achieve the Government’s prime objective of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. That means more than just a verbal or written commitment: it means the inclusion of detailed undertakings by Iran that are sufficient to give us confidence that their nuclear programme will be entirely peaceful. Anything less is completely unacceptable”.
Click here to read the full debate.