Sir Iain Duncan Smith questions the west's patience with Iran

13th January 2020

Following the Foreign Secretary's statement to the House of Commons on Iran, Sir Iain Duncan Smith says that Iran has never met the west's expectations under the Iranian nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and has continued to provoke violence and escalate trouble and war. He asks when do we decide that the people of Iran do not want this organisation any more and that we want to support them?

First, may I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) on securing this urgent question, and my right hon. Friend at the Dispatch Box on his calm and reassuring manner throughout this period? Notwithstanding that, I would like to ask a question. From the moment that we negotiated that deal and the west offered an olive branch to Iran, our expectations have never really been met. Iran shows the face that it wishes to show to the west, but underneath it, it has gone on not de-escalating, but escalating the violence. Whether it is in Syria, all the way down to the Houthis, it has done nothing else but use its money to provoke violence and escalate trouble and war. My question to my right hon. Friend is this: at which point do we really get the idea that this regime is not displaying a peaceful nature and is not going to give up on any of its opportunities and that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, like many others, is being held as a hostage? When do we decide that, actually, the people of Iran do not want this organisation any more and that we want to support them?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. He makes a range of important points. The reality is that we still view the joint comprehensive plan of action as the best means of restraining those in the regime who wished to pursue a nuclear weapon, and that is a top priority—an overriding priority—for this Government. In relation to the wider nefarious conduct of the Government of Iran, I share all of his concerns and then some. The reality is that that is why we have always supported the Macron and Trump initiatives to try to bring Iran back to the diplomatic table and deal with all of those issues in the round—if there is a choice to be made by the regime. We will continue to hold Iran accountable for its actions, while leaving the diplomatic door ajar. Ultimately, this will have to be resolved through a negotiated diplomatic route. Who knows what will happen given the current constellation of factors and the change of circumstances in Iran, but, at some point, it will have to come to the negotiating table.

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