Background to the Committee's
2. The Foreign Affairs Committee first announced
its intention to inquire into Iran in June 2000. At the time,
it hoped to visit Iran in late October of that year. The visit
had to be postponed, firstat the request of the Iranian
sideto the Spring of 2001 and thenbecause of the
United Kingdom general election in June 2001to a date to
be decided by the incoming Committee in the new Parliament, in
consultation with the Iranians. A brief interim Report was issued
in February 2001, in which the Committee explained this situation
and with which it published the written evidence it had by then
3. After the general election, the new Committee
reaffirmed its intention to visit Iran and it was agreed with
the Iranians that the visit should take place in March 2003. Once
again, events intervened and, with war having broken out in neighbouring
Iraq, the visit had to be postponed one further time, until October.
Meanwhile, however, we had heard oral evidence on Iran and had
sought further written evidence.
4. The visit finally took place from 19 to 23 October
2003, and proved to be very worthwhile. A copy of the programme
is appended to this Report.
On 2 December, we followed up the visit by hearing oral evidence
from the Foreign Secretary. We also continued to receive written
evidence. On 26 December, a terrible earthquake struck southern
Iraq, destroying the ancient city of Bam and killing 42,000 people.
We extend our sympathy to the families of the dead, to the injured
and homeless for the suffering they have endured.
5. In this Report, we set out our conclusions and
recommendations on the United Kingdom's relations with Iran, on
a series of multilateral issues in which Iran is centrally involved,
and on Iran's human rights record, which affects its relations
with this and other countries. A separate Report in our series
on Foreign Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, published
in February 2004, also dealt with some aspects of Iran's regional
and global roles, and was also informed by our visit.
6. We wish to thank those who provided us with oral
or written evidence during the period of this extended inquiry.
The fact that our much-postponed visit to Iran was eventually
able to go ahead and to succeed in achieving its aims was due
largely to the assistance of our counterparts in the Majles
(Iranian parliament), the Iranian Embassy in London and the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office in London and, in particular, at the British
Embassy in Tehran. We are grateful to all these for their work
on our behalf.
1 CIA "World Factbook", available at www.cia.gov Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2000-01, Iran:
Interim Report, HC 80 Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, Tenth Report of Session 2002-03, Foreign
Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, HC 405, Ev 29-49,
132-136, 142-153, 154-158. See also list of written evidence published
with this Report Back
See Appendix Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2003-04, Foreign
Policy Aspects of the War against Terrorism, HC 81 Back