Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report

7  Iran


292. Iran is a country of major geo-strategic significance and political, economic and energy importance. It poses a serious foreign policy challenge to the United Kingdom and its allies. In addition to the question of how to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons, there is Iran's mixed record of involvement in the 'war against terrorism' and its poor human rights record. Iran's role is made more complicated by the interplay of rhetoric and pragmatism and the complex interplay of political and clerical systems of governance. In our many discussions about the situation in Iran, we met with British officials, members of the IAEA secretariat, including Director General Dr Mohammed ElBaradei, members of the US Administration and with Iranian politicians.

293. On the nuclear issue, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told us about the effort that has been put into negotiations with Iran: "I would not have spent more time and effort on the Iran dossier than any other since the Iraq war were I not deeply concerned about this threat and the threat that it poses to international peace and security."[372] Explaining why the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon is so undesirable, the Foreign Secretary told us:

    [T]he worst way of achieving peace and security in the Middle East is to have Iran developing a nuclear weapon, or leading to that suspicion, because that will then lead to other states in the region almost certainly developing their own nuclear weapons. I cannot speak for them but I offer this speculation: some of the larger Arab states would not stand idly by for a second if they thought that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon.[373]

294. Expanding on the regional impact of an Iranian nuclear weapon, Dr John Chipman, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, warned:

    Were Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, the status quo and the balance of power in the Gulf region would be altered. Israel has had nuclear weapons for decades. Yet this has not invited any strategic response in the region. Whatever their public pronouncements, Arab states privately recognise that Israel's nuclear capacity is intended to preserve its existence and is not aimed at changing the regional balance of power. No regional state has sought nuclear weapons in response. Israel's nuclear strength is seen as diplomatically offensive to the non-proliferation regime, and the west's implicit tolerance of it as a sign of double standards, but no one sees it as a strategic threat.

    In contrast, possession by Iran of nuclear weapons would change the balance of power and could threaten the regional status quo. The small Gulf Arab states would seek nuclear guarantees from the west, perhaps even closer affiliation to Nato. Saudi Arabia might reconsider its position and seek some kind of nuclear accord with Pakistan. Further afield, Egypt and Turkey might also think of going nuclear. Even if all this took decades to play out, a nuclear-armed Iran would cause a strategic earthquake leading to all sorts of diplomatic and security realignments.[374]

295. In addition to broad concerns over regional nuclear proliferation, the nature of the regime in Tehran makes an Iranian nuclear weapon an alarming prospect. As Jack Straw told us: "If you were identifying countries who fitted the category of being undesirable candidates to hold nuclear weapons, Iran would be quite near the top of the list."[375] This is abundantly clear from Iran's political support for and continued funding of terrorism as well as its call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

296. Iran provides a particularly difficult diplomatic challenge for the United Kingdom. There is a historic legacy of mistrust between the two countries, which have had only sporadic diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The United Kingdom's criticism of the human rights situation in Iran as well as its leading role in the negotiations on the nuclear file put further strain on the relationship. Reflecting the poor state of relations, on 16 October 2005, Iranian officials accused the United Kingdom of involvement in two explosions in Ahvaz near the Iraqi border (this was not the first time such claims had been made); the British Embassy in Tehran condemned the attacks and rejected allegations of British involvement.[376] Reflecting these tensions, as well as the strength of anti-British sentiment among the Iranian population, the British embassy has been the target of attacks and protests in recent years.[377]

Nuclear standoff

297. In the last Report in this inquiry, our predecessor Committee outlined the non-proliferation situation in Iran. The Report noted the reasons for international concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, progress of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) investigations into the Iranian nuclear programme as well as the negotiations between Iran and the EU3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom).[378]


298. Iran has consistently denied that it is developing nuclear weapons, insisting that the goal of its nuclear programme is to produce electricity. Tehran vigorously defends its right to a civil nuclear programme, and this has become a potent national rallying point. Asked about the Iranian nuclear weapons programme, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told us:

299. Dr ElBaradei's report for the March 2006 meeting of the IAEA Governing Board included an assessment of the situation:

    Although the Agency has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the Agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. The process of drawing such a conclusion, under normal circumstances, is a time consuming process even with an Additional Protocol in force. In the case of Iran, this conclusion can be expected to take even longer in light of the undeclared nature of Iran's past nuclear programme, and in particular because of the inadequacy of information available on its centrifuge enrichment programme, the existence of a generic document related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components, and the lack of clarification about the role of the military in Iran's nuclear programme.[380]

300. Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the right to pursue elements of the nuclear fuel cycle for civilian purposes, as long as this is declared and subject to international monitoring. As the former Foreign Secretary told us:

    Iran has signed up solemnly to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and as a non-nuclear weapons state they have rights to develop nuclear power under Article IV but they have obligations not to do anything in the way in which they develop a nuclear power capability which could lead to the development of a nuclear weapons capability. Let me make this clear—I have made it clear time and time again—Iran has every right to nuclear power stations.[381]

301. The fear is that Iran will 'break out' of the NPT once it is capable of building nuclear weapons: the NPT allows signatories to withdraw as long as they give the IAEA 90 days notice. There are diverse estimates of how long it would take Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. According to an assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran is still five to ten years from producing a nuclear weapon. However, "if it continues its research activities on uranium enrichment it may be able within months to master the techniques for operating a cascade of centrifuges. Once it has this capability it could install cascades at clandestine facilities and work to produce fissile material for a weapon."[382] On 2 June 2006, John Negroponte, director of US national intelligence, said that Iran could have nuclear weapons by 2010.[383]

302. Concerns about the pace of the Iranian programme increased recently with the announcement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 11 April 2006 that Iran had joined "the nuclear countries of the world". This followed news that Iran had enriched uranium.[384] On 13 April, Iran declared to the IAEA that it had achieved an enrichment level of 3.6%; on 18 April, the IAEA took samples which confirmed this.[385] The publication of satellite photographs of Iran's Isfahan and Natanz plants showing evidence of new tunnels and underground facilities have added to concern, as has Tehran's recent flexing of its missile technology.[386] In April 2006, Iran unveiled new missile capabilities during a week of highly publicised military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz.[387] A nuclear-armed Iran, equipped with long-range missiles, could be a dangerous force for instability in the region.

303. We conclude that there is clear cause for international concern over Iranian nuclear intentions and a number of substantive issues have yet to be resolved, as spelled out in successive IAEA reports. We further conclude that the Government is correct to take extremely seriously the possibility that Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. A nuclear armed Iran would radically alter the security geography of the region and would lead other countries to seek nuclear weapons or guarantees themselves.


304. In the last Report in this inquiry, our predecessor Committee welcomed the deal reached in November 2004, whereby Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for negotiation of a Trade and Co-operation Agreement with the EU.[388] Since that Report, there has been a serious deterioration in the situation, with the breakdown of talks between the EU3 and Tehran, and Iran's resumption of enrichment activities.

305. In August 2005, Iran re-opened its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan and resumed production of uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for the enrichment process.[389] In January 2006, Iran wrote to inform the IAEA that it had decided to resume research and development "on the peaceful nuclear energy programme."[390] Iran subsequently resumed enrichment activities.

306. The increasing seriousness of the situation is clear from deliberations at the IAEA. In September 2005, the IAEA Governing Board passed a resolution condemning Iran for "non-compliance" with the NPT. The resolution stated: "the history of concealment of Iran's nuclear activities… [has] given rise to questions that are within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security".[391] The Governing Board met again in November 2005 and considered a further report on Iran, but held back from reporting the country to the UN Security Council. This was in the context of a Russian compromise proposal and warnings to Iran that international patience was wearing thin.[392] However, an extraordinary meeting of the IAEA Governing Board on 2-3 February 2006 agreed to report Iran to the UN Security Council, but delayed action until after its scheduled March meeting. This delay reflected an effort to maintain international consensus in the face of Chinese and Russian concerns over the potential for escalation.[393] In March 2006, after months of speculation, the IAEA Governing Board reported Iran to the Security Council. Although this step had long been anticipated, it was far from clear how the Security Council would handle the Iran file. Indeed, we visited the UN in February 2006 and were concerned at the lack of clarity over what would happen next.

307. Reflecting this uncertainty, it took some weeks for the Security Council to issue a presidential statement on Iran—usually a formality, but in this case fraught with diplomatic complications. The statement, issued on 29 March 2006, reiterated the IAEA's concerns about Iran and called on Tehran to take the steps required by the IAEA, namely to:

  • Re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development;
  • Reconsider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water;
  • Ratify promptly and implement in full the Additional Protocol; and
  • Implement transparency measures, which extend beyond the formal requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.

The statement also requested a report from the IAEA Director General on Iran's compliance in 30 days.[394]

308. On 28 April 2006, Dr ElBaradei submitted his report to the IAEA Governing Board and the Security Council. The report noted that Iran had failed to cooperate with the IAEA with regard to requests for additional information on its enrichment programme. In addition, Iran's decision to cease implementing the provisions of the Additional Protocol will limit further the IAEA's ability to clarify issues and confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. [395]

309. Following the release of this report, on 3 May 2006, the United Kingdom and France proposed an unexpectedly tough Security Council Resolution ordering Iran to suspend immediately "all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities", including research and development, as well as the construction of a heavy water reactor or face the possibility of "further measures". China and Russia immediately rejected the draft, saying it was too aggressive and needed to be reworked.[396] Subsequent meetings of the Permanent Five (P5) made little progress on agreeing a Resolution. However, agreement was reached that the EU3 would launch a new diplomatic initiative concurrent with ongoing efforts to agree a Resolution.

310. On 15 May, EU foreign ministers endorsed a twin-track approach setting out both incentives and restrictive measures to convince Iran to end enrichment and reprocessing activities. In part, this decision reflected the hope that spelling out the incentives offered to Iran would address Russian and Chinese concerns and overcome the deadlock over a Security Council Resolution.[397] On 6 June, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana presented the package of incentives to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. The package, which has not been made public, offers various incentives in exchange for Iran's suspension of enrichment and reprocessing activities. These incentives are reported to include: assistance for Iran's civilian nuclear energy programme, including help building light-water nuclear reactors and a guaranteed fuel supply; trade concessions; the lifting of the US ban on the sale of spare parts for Iran's ageing civilian aircraft, which could include components from Boeing and Airbus; the waiver of trade sanctions against Iran to allow the purchase of US agricultural technology; support for Iran's membership of the World Trade Organization; and an offer by the USA to end its policy against direct talks with Iran and to join in the nuclear negotiations.[398] The 'disincentives' are believed to include a travel ban against Iran's religious leaders and government officials involved in the nuclear programme and a freeze of Iranian financial assets abroad.

311. The initial Iranian response to the package has been positive, especially compared with the package proposed by the EU3 in the Summer of 2005, which Iran immediately rejected. Following his meeting with Javier Solana, Mr Larijani said "The proposals contain positive steps and also some ambiguities, which must be removed… We hope we will have negotiations and deliberations again after we have carefully studied the proposals to reach a balanced and logical result." For his part, Mr Solana described the meeting as "very, very constructive." However, Iran subsequently reacted badly to suggestions of an ultimatum when President Bush said that Iran had "weeks not months" to respond to the package. There have also been suggestions that Iran will make a 'counter-proposal'[399]

312. We conclude that despite achieving a high degree of international agreement about the need to address Iran's nuclear ambitions, there has been a worrying lack of consensus among the Permanent Members of the UNSC on how best to tackle this problem. We commend the Government's commitment to diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran. We sincerely regret the breakdown of negotiations in 2005 and Iran's resumption of enrichment activities. We commend the international consensus achieved among members of the IAEA Governing Board and the efforts taken to maintain this consensus in the decision to report Iran to the UN Security Council. We also commend renewed efforts by the EU3 to resolve the crisis by diplomatic means and we recommend that the Government keep us informed of the progress of these negotiations.


313. Despite international consensus at the IAEA over Iran ahead of its referral to the UN Security Council, and broad consensus over the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, there has been uncertainty over how best to make Iran meet its international obligations. Over the past year, we asked the former Foreign Secretary on numerous occasions about the options available to the international community.

314. In February 2006, we asked him about what would happen when the Iran file reached the Security Council, but Mr Straw was reluctant to speak specifically about the steps that could be taken, speaking instead about the impact of being reported to the Security Council:

315. Speaking to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London in March 2006, the then Foreign Secretary said that "diplomatic discretion" required that he reveal little of the plans for what happened next.[401] Nevertheless, he set out the four principles according to which the United Kingdom is proceeding:

    First, our objective is to exert the pressure needed so that Iran restores a full verifiable suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activity and cooperates in full with the Agency.

    Second, action taken by the Security Council should be incremental, one step at a time, and it should also be reversible so that we can respond to Iranian actions and reactions. We should leave the door open for negotiations with Iran to resume at any stage so that they can then come into compliance.

    Third, we want to maintain the strongest possible international consensus.

    And fourth and finally, the Security Council will be invited to act to reinforce the authority of the IAEA which will continue to play the central role in monitoring, verifying and resolving outstanding issues.[402]

The former Foreign Secretary emphasised the point that referral to the Security Council does not signal the end of diplomatic efforts: "If Iran is prepared to respect the requests of the IAEA in full, then the door to a negotiated solution will reopen."[403]

Renewed engagement

316. On 7 June 2006, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett was upbeat about the prospects of the renewed efforts at diplomatic engagement with Iran. She told us:

    I know you will understand and I think the Committee will understand if I approach this at this moment in time with considerable caution because it was only yesterday that the meeting took place in Iran where proposals were put before the Government of Iran and they still have to consider them. What I would say is that there is actually a very strong coherence of understanding about the benefits of dealing with the issues which arise in Iran through diplomatic means and of the potential disadvantages of all of that going wrong… There is a very considerable amount of common ground, agreement, understanding and basic concern among the participants in that dialogue, the P5 and Germany. That is the first thing I would say. Second, coming from that common analysis and concern, there is a passionate desire to find a way out of this through diplomatic means and a way out which can be to everybody's benefit. The reason that we did not make any statements in New York was because people wanted to do more work on being able to put something of greater substance to the Iranian Government and that work has proceeded in the interim and that then led to the discussions that we had in Vienna. In Vienna, again there was acceptance from all of the countries there that we should be offering to the Iranian people and the Iranian Government something which was mutually beneficial, that we should make plain our shared concern and our shared wish to resolve this problem as an international community but our shared understanding that the concerns of the IAEA Board were concerns that everyone shared. I do not really want to go any further than that but it was a deliberate choice and decision that we made—and I chaired the meeting, as you perhaps know—a united statement that I as the chair read out. It was a very short statement that we would not explain the content to anybody before it had been shared with the Government of Iran and we had given them a breathing space to think about it, to consider it, and to think about their response, and that we would do everything that we could to avoid jeopardising the prospects of agreement because of that absolutely shared basis of concern and interest.[404]

317. It has been argued that one of the reasons for the failure of previous diplomatic efforts was the absence of US involvement. Although European players could offer a range of economic and political incentives, they could not offer the security guarantees that many believe could achieve an agreement. Indeed, the negotiations between the EU3 and Iran have been criticised for failing to address Iran's security needs.[405] Explaining Iran's sense of international and regional insecurity, the former Foreign Secretary told us:

    [Y]ou have got to understand how isolated Iran feels in that Iran is not an Arab state… Iran feels over the last 100 years it has been humiliated by great powers, by the United Kingdom. There was this constitutional revolution in 1906 and in 1908 we came along backing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and ensured that we got the lion's share of oil revenues and that went on for decades. We supported the Shah in what amounted to a takeover of that country and did not do anything when he implemented very crude anti-Islamic policies, including making it a criminal offence for women to wear even the hijab, the headscarf, on the street. We and the Soviet Union occupied the country for five years in the north from 1941-46 and then elements of British intelligence and the CIA stopped a perfectly democratic prime minister, Mossadeq, from office and failed to see the signs of the decadence of the Shah's regime and many Western countries, actually less so the United Kingdom and some continental countries, actively supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. You have got to see it from their point of view and if we do not see it from their point of view as well we will make mistakes in the way we handle this.[406]

318. On top of this sense of 'humiliation', Iran is highly conscious of its encirclement: "It has nuclear-armed states to the east (Pakistan and India), north (Russia) and west (Israel). It was forced into a devastating eight-year war with Iraq that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Above all it feels threatened by America. "What is the only country in the world, apart from Canada, that has the US on every border?" they like to ask in Tehran. "Iran," comes the wry reply.[407] Indeed, in the last Report in this Inquiry, our predecessor Committee noted: "Iran's logic for developing a nuclear deterrent revolves around its isolation and the growing number of US clients in its neighbourhood. US troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan, Turkey is a member of NATO and Pakistan is a close ally of the US in the 'war against terrorism'. Iran's designation as part of the 'axis of evil' and Washington's long standing hostility to the Islamist regime provide serious cause for concern in Tehran."[408]

319. The former Foreign Secretary told us about the success of European cooperation on the Iran dossier: "[I]t is a very good illustration of operational European foreign policy. The fact that it has been led by the three largest countries in the EU has been an essential part of that. I should also say, however, that Javier Solana, the High Representative on foreign policy, has played an increasingly important role in this and so has his staff."[409] Asked about Washington's attitude towards this process, the former Foreign Secretary told us:

    [I]t is fair to say the United States initially were sceptical about this E3 process. They understood that in the aftermath of the Iraq war the architecture of diplomacy of the E3 made sense but there was worry in the United States—to go back to a previous point—that the Iranians would pick off France and Germany from the United Kingdom… Since then, I think it is fair to say, the United States Government's confidence in the E3 process has increased. There has been more and more active co-operation between the E3 and the Government of the United States. This led to some key confidence building measures being offered by the United States Government.[410]

320. Nevertheless, the former Foreign Secretary also told us: "It would be much better if there were diplomatic relations and just closer relations altogether between the United States and Iran.… I have to say there is a lot of institutional hostility to the United States in Iran, as you may have noticed."[411] Explaining this hostility, the Foreign Secretary said: "Their history with Iran is much more fractured than is Europe's… None of us have had the equivalent of the 444 day siege which humiliated an American President, some say that led to his demise, and all that has gone on since then. Nor do we in Europe have the same kind of very vocal and vociferous Iranian Diaspora that the American Government has to cope with."[412]

321. Sir Christopher Meyer, former Ambassador in Washington, reiterated the importance of US engagement to us: "The one peaceful thing, if you like, the one non-military thing that has not been tried yet in dealing with Iran is intensive diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Iran. That is one piece that has not been put into the jigsaw."[413] Moves to initiate talks between the USA and Iran on Iraq have prompted optimism that there could scope for diplomatic engagement between the two countries. However, Washington has been insistent that any talks would be limited to the situation in Iraq, and has continued to resist both international and domestic calls to engage Iran directly on the nuclear issue.

322. Therefore, it is extremely positive that the USA appears to be engaging with the current diplomatic initiative. The USA has taken a truly significant step in offering to: lift the ban on the sale of spare parts for Iran's civilian aircraft and to waive trade sanctions to allow the purchase of US agricultural technology; support Iran's membership of the World Trade Organization; and possibly end its policy against direct talks with Iran and to join in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme.

323. We asked Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett about this positive development and whether it reflects a strategic shift rather than a tactical move. She told us:

    [A]lthough you are right in saying that the present process of engagement has been contributed to massively by this very substantial shift in the position of the United States of America, actually there would not have been anything to shift on, there would have been no foundations laid, had it not been for those three EU Foreign Ministers and their initiative and I think that the credit belongs to them in starting that process, but then, of course, all credit is due to those in the United States for making a substantial shift… [I]t is a huge encouragement to the Government of Iran… that there is a choice of open to them and that one of those paths is one of real opportunity for a better future for the Iranian people. Obviously, the move by the United States is one of the major contributory factors in fleshing out… the sheer scale of that opportunity because it is now an opportunity that does not just relate to their wish to have access to civil nuclear power but also much more widely to their relationships with the whole international community… I say to you, hand on heart, no, I do not believe it is a matter of tactics by the United States. I think it signals a willingness by the United States to have a changed relationship with Iran if that is what Iran wants.[414]

324. We commend the high-level cooperation between the United Kingdom, France and Germany in their negotiations with Iran. We conclude that US engagement will be an essential component of any lasting agreement and commend US involvement in the current EU3 diplomatic initiative. We recommend that the Government use its close relationship with the USA to encourage it to engage further with Iran and that it set out in its response to this Report what steps it is taking to do this.


325. Pressed on the likelihood that the Security Council would impose sanctions on Iran, the former Foreign Secretary told us:

    There are available to the Security Council, as you will be aware, non-military sanctions under Article 41 and everybody knows what those are and how they have been used in the past. I do not want to anticipate decisions that the Security Council might or might not make in respect of sanctions except to say that it does not follow at all that just because the matter is considered subject to a resolution in the Security Council there have to be sanctions as well.[415]

326. Deep scepticism over the likelihood of Security Council consensus on imposing sanctions has been borne out by the persistent failure to agree a Security Council Resolution. Doubts have centred on the positions of Russia and China, both of which are permanent members of the Security Council with a veto and both of which have close economic, military or trade relationships with Iran. Asked about the positions of these two countries, the former Foreign Secretary reiterated his belief in the strength of the consensus:

    What we have seen is Russia and China make some very important strategic decisions. Yes, in the case of China they rely to a significant degree on Iranian oil and gas and in the case of Russia their direct interests are different but very close because they are a neighbour and Iran has potentially very significant influence in the Caucasus to stir up trouble. I think that Russia and China judged against those direct and immediate interests it was very important to make clear to the Iranians that the patience of the international community was being exhausted and if the Iranians were demanding of Russia and China that they choose between Iran or the international community and international solidarity then they would do the latter and not the former.[416]

327. Nevertheless, both China and Russia have repeatedly stated their commitment to a negotiated solution and resisted any reference to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter in relation to Iran; Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has specifically said that Russia opposes imposing sanctions against Iran and that the "sole solution" will come through the IAEA.[417]

328. Speaking in May 2006, the Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said this about sanctions: "everybody believes that Iran should and must move into compliance with the view and the recommendation and the requirements of the IAEA Board. Everybody wants to find a way to achieve that. It may be that sanctions have to be applied. No one wants to apply sanctions if it's not necessary."[418]

329. The likelihood that the Security Council will fail to agree to impose sanctions on Iran has prompted speculation that steps could be taken by other bodies or a new 'coalition of the willing'. A meeting of EU foreign ministers on 10 April 2006 considered the issue; EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said that the EU "should prepare itself for other punitive action against Tehran" in the event that there is deadlock in the Security Council. Such sanctions could include a visa ban on key figures, a block on the transfer of civilian nuclear technology, an arms embargo and suspension of negotiations with Iran on a free-trade deal.[419]

330. In addition to speculation over whether the international will for sanctions exists, there is doubt over what sort of sanctions might cause Iran to take the desired steps. Indeed, Iranians play down the effect of US sanctions, which were imposed after the 1979 revolution.[420] Dr Ali Ansari, an Iran expert at St Andrews University and Chatham House, and a previous witness to this Inquiry, has warned about Iranian calculations of being able to withstand sanctions and the danger that sanctions will 'whip up' Iranian nationalism:

    Iran's leaders calculate they can weather any sanctions (or, indeed, worse); but to achieve that they must whip up nationalistic fervour—further precluding any accommodation. This, of course, has the added benefit of consolidating a hardline government that would otherwise rest on precarious foundations… Persian nationalism is a powerful tool of mobilisation. The West should avoid fuelling it through reckless generalisations and hyperbole, which will simply alienate all Iranians.[421]

Asked whether imposing sanctions on Iran might work to reinforce the position of the current government, the former Foreign Secretary told us: "If they were ill-judged and ill-thought through, yes, and that is one of the reasons why I do not want to speculate particularly on what Article 41 measures might be available to the Security Council."[422]

331. Analysts argue that any disruption of oil exports would have serious consequences for Iran, which exports more than 2.7 million barrels per day (equal to around 60% of its overall production). Oil receipts make up 80% of Iran's foreign exchange and 60% of government revenue.[423] However, any oil-industry related sanctions would have dire consequences for the international community. Iran is OPEC's second largest oil producer and holds 10% of the world's proven oil reserves. It also has the world's second largest natural gas reserves (after Russia). Reflecting this, the former Foreign Secretary said: "On the oil market, no-one that I have seen is talking about sanctions which will impact on the oil market. The purpose of any measures taken under Article 41 would be to put pressure on the Iranian regime, not on the international community."[424] One sanction that could have the desired effect without damaging the international economy would be an embargo on the export of refined petroleum to Iran. Iran lacks refining capacity and is highly dependent on petrol imports (during his visit to Indonesia in May 2006, President Ahmadinejad signed a deal to build a refinery in Indonesia for Iranian oil).[425] We have already noted the 'disincentives' reported to be included in the EU3 package (a travel ban against Iran's religious leaders and government officials involved in the nuclear programme and a freeze of Iranian financial assets abroad).

332. We conclude that a broad range of options are available to the international community with regard to Iran, but that that some are fraught with difficulty. We further conclude that in the interest of legitimacy as well as effectiveness it is highly desirable that maximum international consensus is maintained on any action taken against Iran.

Military action

333. Doubts over the impact and likelihood of sanctions have inevitably led to speculation over the possibility of military action against Iran. Such speculation has been heightened by press reports that the USA is preparing for possible major air attacks, including a tactical nuclear strike, to destroy suspected Iranian weapons sites.[426] Although the White House has dismissed these reports, calling them "wild speculation",[427] President Bush has said that all options, including the use of force, are "on the table" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.[428]

334. The former Foreign Secretary was firm in his rejection of the military option, saying on numerous occasions that it was not on the agenda. In October 2005, Jack Straw told the Committee:

    [P]eople need to chill a bit on this. Military action is not on anybody's agenda with respect to Iran, and that has been made clear repeatedly by the American Government and clearly by Condoleezza Rice yesterday at the joint interview I did with her from Birmingham, Alabama. It is simply not on the agenda. There is always a caveat entered on behalf of the President of the United States, who is also Commander in Chief, which I understand; but it is not on the agenda of the American Government and it is not on our agenda or anybody's agenda on the board of governors.[429]

In March 2006, he commented on the international position towards military action:

    What I know is that if we were more belligerent the international consensus would weaken very quickly, and I happen to believe that the most likely way of resolving this satisfactorily, and with Iran coming into compliance, is by maintaining a strong international consensus, and that is my judgment, it is the judgment of my European colleagues and we have been supported in that by American colleagues as well.[430]

335. However, there is concern over a possible difference of view between the Foreign Office and Downing Street on this issue. Unlike the former Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister has never categorically ruled out military action against Iran. Asked whether he would give an absolute assurance that he would not support an attack on Iran, the Prime Minister told the House: "[W]hen the President of Iran is talking about wiping Israel off the face of the earth and when young people are signing up to be suicide bombers directed at US, UK and Israeli targets with at least the tacit acceptance of and possibly at the instigation of the Iranian regime, this is not the time to send a message of weakness."[431] The new Foreign Secretary has also held back from explicitly ruling out military action; at a press conference on 8 May 2006, Margaret Beckett said: "The way that I choose to express it is that it's not the intention, it is not anybody's intention to take the course of military action and that I think is… simple and straight forward and clear." [432]

336. Turning to the effectiveness of any potential military action against Iran, there are doubts whether the military option offers a long-term solution to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.[433] In February 2006, the Oxford Research Group published a report on the consequences of war against Iran. This report found that although attacks would severely damage Iranian nuclear and missile programmes, Iran would have many methods of responding in the months and years that followed. Moreover:

    However badly Iran's nuclear infrastructure was damaged in an attack, an immediate response would be to reconstitute the infrastructure and work rapidly and in secret towards a clear nuclear weapons capability. This would probably involve giving formal notice of withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, followed by the immediate reconstitution of the nuclear infrastructure, developing it wherever possible in a more survivable manner. This would include systems redundancy, dispersal of research, development and production capabilities and the use of deep underground facilities for future work wherever feasible.

    Furthermore, there may already be elements of redundancy built in to the current Iranian civil nuclear programme and there may be elements of which the United States is unaware. If so, this would aid the reconstitution of capabilities. More generally, any hope of negotiating away Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme in the years after a US attack would vanish, undermining global non-proliferation efforts. Rather than living with an Iran that had the potential to produce nuclear weapons, the US action would almost certainly guarantee an overtly nuclear-armed Iran for decades to come or, alternatively, further instances of military action.[434]

337. In addition, there could be far reaching and serious consequences for the international community. In May 2006, Lt Gen Victor Renuart, the director of planning for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that military action against Iran would be "fraught with risk and would have repercussions across the region".[435] Not only could military action rally the Iranian public around what is seen as a national right to a nuclear programme, but it would also inflame Muslim opinion across the world. There is well founded concern that: "An attack on Iran would proliferate further the lethal hybrid of Islamism and nationalism incubated by the invasion of Iraq, fusing an irreducible identity into an undeterrable ideology."[436] In addition to dramatically increasing the international cost of oil, a military attack could unleash a much more malign Iranian approach in neighbouring Iraq. Iran could also use its allies and proxies across the region to retaliate, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

338. We asked Professor Philippe Sands QC about the legality of any future military action against Iran. He told us:

    Classically there are two grounds to use force in international relations under international law: one, in self-defence, Articles 2(4) and 51 of the United Nations Charter; and, two, where authorised by the Security Council. In classic international law there is no third ground, but the United Nations Charter, when it was adopted in 1945, put into its preamble into Article 2 a commitment to protect fundamental human rights.[437]

Applying this to Iran, Professor Sands said:

    If you look at the situation in Iran… the allegation is that it is engaged in the production of nuclear material for the purposes of producing an atomic bomb. If that is the case - and facts obviously are central - it would be in violation of its obligations under the 1968 Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.[438]

    Assuming those facts are correct and assuming that Iran persists in its actions what is to happen? At the first stage we are in discussion right now of moving the debate to the Security Council and the Security Council has adopted a first declaration urging Iran to bring itself into compliance with its international obligations… Let us assume that after the declaration Iran does not bring itself into compliance what happens next? It goes back to the Security Council, the Security Council adopts, one assumes, a resolution, negotiations go on and ultimately a point may be reached in which there is a stalemate and in which the Security Council tells Iran what to do and Iran refuses… I think it is premature to reach a firm view on what ought to happen in those circumstances but one can see two arguments. One argument is that when a State which is a party to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons violates its obligations and is found to be in violation by the Security Council, States are entitled to use force in self defence. That might be one view that could be put by the Bush Administration, adopting a particular interpretation of pre-emption. Another view would be that in those circumstances it is only for the international organisations concerned to act and that anything that falls short of a threatened use of force against an individual State or a group of States will not justify the use of force until it has been authorised by the Security Council, perhaps in association with the International Atomic Energy Agency.[439]

339. Spelling out the situation regarding weapons of mass destruction, Professor Sands told us: "My own view is that the existing rules of international law justifying the use of force where an attack is threatened are sufficient to allow a State, including the United Kingdom, to act where there is credible evidence that a weapon of mass destruction is being assembled with the intent of using it in relation to, in this case, the United Kingdom."[440] However, the situation would change in the event that Iran withdrew from the NPT: "[S]tates as sovereign entities are free to ratify treaties and, in accordance with the relevant rules, to opt out of them… [T]hat, of course, would leave them in a circumstance in which they would not be open to the criticism that they are not complying with their international legal obligations and would transform, I think, the nature of the legal debate as to what can be done to respond to that situation."[441]

340. We conclude that military action against Iran would be likely to unleash a host of extremely serious consequences both in the Middle East and elsewhere and would not be guaranteed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the long term. We further conclude that the Government should not undertake or support military action against Iran until all other options have been exhausted or without broad agreement among its international allies. We also conclude that the lack of international consensus for sanctions against Iran combined with the extremely worrying prospect of military action mean that all possible diplomatic efforts must be applied to reaching a negotiated agreement with Iran; we recommend that the Government make this point absolutely clear to the administration in Washington.

Iran and the 'War against Terrorism'

Links with terrorism

341. In previous Reports in this inquiry, our predecessor Committee noted both Iran's links with terrorist groups and its unhelpful role in neighbouring Iraq. In its Report of January 2004, our predecessor Committee noted that Iran retains links to Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups and has the ability to diminish the capacity of terrorists to derail the political process in Israel and Palestine.[442] These concerns remain and have been exacerbated by the confrontational stance adopted by Iran's new President.

342. The former Foreign Secretary told us about Iran's links with terrorist groups: "We have a well-founded belief that Iran is funding Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and has strong connections with them. We believe they are also funding Hamas as well although it appears that a good deal of the funds for Hamas comes from around the Arab world."[443] The Foreign Secretary subsequently wrote to us about evidence that Iran has brought terrorism into Western Europe: "The Iranian authorities are believed to have been directly involved in the murder of Iranian dissidents and opposition figures in Europe during the 1980s and 1990s."[444] The former Foreign Secretary also told us: "Iran's intelligence services were significantly reformed during the Presidency of Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005, although a number of senior figures who left the Ministry of Intelligence during that time have returned to frontline politics in Ahmadinejad's government."[445]

343. The USA has been especially vocal in its criticism of Iran in this area: in March 2006, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to Iran as "a kind of central banker for terrorism in important regions like Lebanon through Hezbollah in the Middle East."[446] Images of Iranian volunteers signing up as would-be suicide bombers for attacks against "oppressors of the Muslim world" have done little to assuage such concerns.[447]


344. Since his election, President Ahmadinejad has made a number of inflammatory comments that have further alarmed the international community. His remarks about Israel have been particularly unpalatable. On 26 October 2005, President Ahmadinejad addressed a conference in Tehran on "A World Without Zionism". In his speech, he called for "Israel to be wiped from the map", and said that "the Islamic world will not let its historic enemy live in its heartland… the new wave of (attacks) in Palestine... will erase this stigma from the Islamic world" and that "anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury".[448]

On 27 October 2005, the Prime Minister responded to these comments:

    These sentiments are completely and totally unacceptable… This is unacceptable… when we hear statements like that made about Israel, it makes us feel very angry. It is just completely wrong, this, and it indicates and underlines I am afraid how much some of those places need reform themselves. Because how are we going to build a more secure world with that type of attitude? It is a disgrace I am afraid.[449]

345. Then in December 2005, President Ahmadinejad said that the Nazi Holocaust was 'a myth'. He said that he did not believe that six million Jews had died at the hands of the Nazis last century and that "they have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets". He called for Europe or North America—even Alaska—to host a Jewish state, not the Middle East.[450]

346. Initially, some analysts dismissed such comments as rhetoric employed by a new and inexperienced president seeking to rally the Iranian population behind him. However, the repeated use of such inflammatory and unacceptable rhetoric is not new or confined to the President. The former Foreign Secretary told us about this:

    Can I just say that one of the problems of dealing with Iran is that this position which President Ahmadinejad articulated in such a dreadful way is a longstanding one of the post-revolutionary republic. At one of my meetings with President Khatami, who genuinely was a moderate, I said to him when he was talking about Israel that it would help if, number one, they recognised the rest of the world thought a two-state solution was appropriate and, number two, if he as president of this republic ordered that the Shahab 2 missiles should not have painted on their side in English "Death to Israel" when they were paraded in the national parade each year. I was received with a shrug.[451]


347. There is strong evidence of malign Iranian involvement in neighbouring Iraq. On 6 October 2005, at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the Prime Minister said that information linked Iran to recent bomb attacks against British troops in Iraq: "What is clear is that there have been new explosive devices used, not just against British troops but elsewhere in Iraq. The particular nature of those devices lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah, because they are similar to the devices used by Hezbollah that is funded and supported by Iran. However we cannot be sure of this at the present time."[452]

348. The former Foreign Secretary repeated this assessment, telling a press conference that explosives that killed at least eight British soldiers originated from either Hezbollah or Iran. "There were improvised explosive devices used against a number of British convoys which killed, probably at least eight British soldiers and soldiers from other parts of the coalition… The forensic examination of those devices linked their design to Hezbollah and to Iran. That's the evidence we've put to the Iranians."[453] More recently, President Bush in March 2006 accused Iran of supplying components for some of the most powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used in Iraq.[454]

349. There is also long-standing concern over political interference by Iran in Iraq given its close link with a number of Shia individuals and groups there. Yahia Said, Research Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the LSE, commented:

    Iran has a very big footprint in Iraq, a big influence. It goes through a variety of channels. It has channels to a variety of the actors in Iraq. Certain groups that enjoy Iranian support have been instrumental in fomenting sectarian violence in Iraq. Specifically I would mention the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the associated Badr Brigade. These are two organisations that have been established in Iran and have benefited from direct Iranian material and moral support for many years. However, the Iranian involvement in Iraq is more complex than that. They have been supporting nationalist group, insurgents group and so on. Iran, I believe, views Iraq as an insurance policy, as a card that it could use should it be subjected to a form of perceived or expected aggression from the United States, and therefore, what Iranian influence in Iraq has been over the three years is to try to keep the situation at a certain level of instability, so that it could use it as leverage in relation with the United States.[455]

Zaki Chehab, Political Editor of Arabic daily newspaper Al Hayat, also told us about the strength of Iranian influence in Iraq.[456]

350. Within Iraq's borders there are Iranian exiles based at Ashraf city. They have protected persons status under the fourth Geneva Convention. At a time of increasing dialogue with the regime in Tehran it is important for governments of the coalition in Iraq, and the Iraqi government, to reiterate their recognition of these exiles' protected persons status.

351. The importance of Iran's position in Iraq is indicated by recent moves to initiate talks between Washington and Tehran over the situation there. This move followed Washington's authorisation of its ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to talk to Iranian officials about Iraq. Iran and the USA have had no official relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution.[457]

352. In contrast, Iran is viewed to have taken a cooperative approach to the situation in Afghanistan, seeing a shared goal in removing the Taliban and tackling the drug problem. As the former Foreign Secretary told us: "Iran has been constructive in dealings with Afghanistan and with the international community in Afghanistan. It is perhaps an illustration of some ambiguity of Iranian policy, but it has been. They have, too, an identity of interest with Western Europe and with the United Kingdom over the issue of drugs because almost all the heroin from Afghanistan goes through Iran and I am told that there are up to two million Iranians who are heroin addicts, so it is a really serious problem."[458]

353. We conclude that Iran's position towards the 'war against terrorism' has been contradictory, and extremely unhelpful in a number of key areas. Iran continues to have links with terrorist groups, while statements by the Iranian president about Israel and denial of the Holocaust are deplorable and cannot be dismissed as empty rhetoric. We commend the Prime Minister's robust response to these comments and recommend that the Government continue to make clear to the Iranian Government that such behaviour and comments are unacceptable.

Iran and Reform

354. There are also serious human rights concerns in Iran. Our recent Report on the FCO's annual human rights report included a section on Iran. In particular, we noted concerns about: the punishment of juveniles; freedom of expression; pressure on NGOs and civil society groups; detention of Christians and other issues related to freedom of worship including repression of the Baha'is; detention of political opponents; use of the death penalty and public executions; and women's rights.[459] We took evidence from key international human rights groups, who raised their concerns about Iran. Dr Nazila Ghanea-Hercock also wrote to us about the situation:

    Increasingly the evidence has shown that Iran has a constitutional system that has the veneer of democracy and balance of powers, but that in reality its framework makes the very notion of the independence of the judiciary and a society built on equality of opportunity and respect for rights impossible. The Iranian legal system is inherently gender-biased, racist, and has built within it a hierarchy of discrimination based on religion or belief… I therefore fear that any encouragement by the UK and EU for Iran to commit to human rights and dialogue will, at present, prove futile.[460]

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom also expressed concern about the continued persecution of Baha'is in Iran.[461] We further noted that the deterioration in relations with Iran over the nuclear issue was making dialogue increasingly difficult.[462]

355. In its response to that Report, the Government said:

    We continue to use our diplomatic contacts with the Iranian government to promote respect for human rights and political freedoms, and actively encourage the EU to do likewise. In the absence of an effective EU/Iran Human Rights Dialogue, these efforts are even more important. We will continue to draw public attention to human rights violations in Iran and to press the Iranian authorities to address them. We will also continue to support debate in United Nations for the work of United National mechanisms. All EU counties co-sponsored a resolution on human rights in Iran adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2005.[463]

356. There are also concerns over the shortcomings of the democratic process in Iran. Elections to the Majlis (parliament) in 2004 were deeply flawed. The Guardian Council, an unelected body that constitutionally 'interprets' Islamic orthodoxy, barred around 2,500 of the 8,200 prospective candidates, including 87 existing members, from standing. After a request by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that it review the bans, the Council made minimal changes and warned that any further challenge to its ruling would be "making war on God". Nearly 1,200 more candidates withdrew in protest.[464]

357. The former Foreign Secretary told us about his concerns in this area:

    Iran is not free and democratic by customary norms and… their human rights record is lamentable… Iran is a very complicated society. It is replete with ambiguity… Aspects of it appear to be democratic and certainly responsive to public opinion, aspects of it are very autocratic. One of our officials, who knows Iran very well, described it as a pluralist theocracy with some pressure towards democracy but some pressure away from it, and I think that is probably the best way of describing it. Essentially what you have got is a series of democratic institutions, including the presidency and Majlis, the parliament, paralleled by a series of undemocratic institutions which are appointed, which are the guardian council, council of ecclesiastical experts, the supreme leader and this expediency council which is there to negotiate in-between.[465]

Speaking about the role of the international community in encouraging reform in Iran, the former Foreign Secretary told the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

    [W]e in the rest of the international community should not look the other way when the regime fails to abide by international standards in the way in which it treats its own people. We are not going to take sides in respect of Iran's internal political debates, these are for the Iranians to resolve and they are perfectly capable of doing so themselves. Given their history, Iranians are understandably sensitive about any hint of outside interference, but this doesn't mean that we should stop standing up for principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms which we hold dear ourselves, and to which the Iranian government have continually signed up themselves, and to which the Iranians aspire: freedom of speech; transparent, genuinely democratic and accountable government; respect for the right of minorities and women; an independent judiciary.[466]

358. Asked what the United Kingdom is doing about the human rights situation, Mr Straw said: "Well there is the human rights dialogue which the European Union operate, and it is better to operate than not operate. I am not suggesting that it has a huge effect day by day, it doesn't, but it is very important that we should make clear to the Iranian regime that we expect them to abide by the human rights standards to which they themselves have signed up."[467] Speaking more generally about how the international community can influence that domestic Iranian reform debate, Mr Straw commented:

    [W]e should help the Iranians to make informed choices for themselves by helping to improve the flow of information into that country. Iranians are highly educated, broad-minded, and eager to form their own opinions on matters of vital interest. The young in particular instinctively grasp the potential of globalisation and want Iran to emerge from behind its self-imposed isolation. Iran has more web journals per capita than any other country in the world, but at the moment the regime tries to maintain control on information flows into Iran through its monopoly of state-controlled broadcasting, and for example by blocking independent sources of information, as it did recently with the BBC Persian Services website.[468]

359. Asked about the feasibility of a BBC Farsi television service, the former Foreign Secretary told us: "The BBC is doing some work for us at the moment on scoping this. I am sympathetic to funding it, in fact I would be delighted to fund it. The only difficulty is I do not have the cheque book, which is held in the Treasury under arrangements which we have in the British Government."[469]

360. Whilst we recognise the need for continuing dialogue with the Iranian regime, both in relation to its involvement in Iraq and the wider international scene, we are concerned that the United Kingdom's criticisms and concerns should be robustly and unambiguously articulated.

361. We conclude that the human rights situation in Iran remains extremely unsatisfactory. We recommend that the Government continue to use its diplomatic contacts with the Iranian government to promote respect for human rights and political and religious freedoms, and actively encourage the EU to do likewise. We further conclude that the democratic process in Iran is deeply flawed, and that although this issue must be handled with care, there is a role for the United Kingdom and the international community more broadly in supporting reform efforts. We recommend that the Government seriously consider funding a Farsi BBC television service.

372   Ev 195, Q 3 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

373   Ibid, Ev 195, Q 2  Back

374   "An effective way to deal with Iran", Financial Times, 15 March 2006 Back

375   Ev 196, Q 10 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

376   "Britain denies bomb claim", BBC News Online, 16 October 2005, Back

377   "Tehran students attack UK embassy", BBC News Online, 28 September 2006, Back

378   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 363-373 Back

379   Q 199 Back

380   "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", Report by the Director General, 27 February 2006, GOV/2006/15 Back

381   Ev 195, Q 2 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

382   "An effective way to deal with Iran", John Chipman, Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Financial Times, 15 March 2006 Back

383   "World powers agree deal on Iran nuclear package", Financial Times, 2 June 2006 Back

384   "Iran nuclear move draws UN ire *Moscow warns against use of force to deal with Tehran", Financial Times, 13 April 2006; and "Iran says it has mastered uranium enrichment", Financial Times, 12 April 2006 Back

385   "Nuclear report on Iran: Excerpts", BBC News Online, 29 April 2006, Back

386   "US refuses to discuss Iran's nuclear plans in face-to-face talks on Iraq", The Guardian, 18 April 2006 Back

387   "Iran nuclear move draws UN ire", Financial Times, 13 April 2006 Back

388   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 363-373 Back

389   "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran and related Board resolutions", IAEA Resolution adopted on 11 August 2005, GOV/2005/64 Back

390   "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", Report by the Director General, 27 February 2006, GOV/2006/15 Back

391   "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", Resolution adopted on 24 September 2005, IAEA Board of Governors, GOV/2005/77 Back

392   "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", Report by the Director General, GOV/2005/87, 18 November 2005 Back

393   "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran", Resolution adopted on 4 February 2006, IAEA Governing Board, GOV/2006/14 Back

394   UN Security Council Presidential Statement, SC/8679, 29 March 2006 Back

395   "Nuclear report on Iran: Excerpts", BBC News Online, 29 April 2006, Back

396   "UN powers split over tough Iran resolution", Financial Times, 4 May 2006 Back

397   "EU offers Iran nuclear deal to end uranium enrichment", Financial Times, 16 May 2006 Back

398   "Iran to study EU incentive plan on nuclear issue", Financial Times, 7 June 2006; and "US offering deals on trade to entice Iran", The New York Times, 6 June 2006 Back

399   "Iran sees 'problems' in offer to lure it off the nuclear path", Financial Times, 12 June 2006 Back

400   Ev 197, Q 12 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

401   "Iran: the path ahead", remarks by the Foreign Secretary, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 13 March 2006 Back

402   "Iran: the path ahead", remarks by the Foreign Secretary, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 13 March 2006 Back

403   ibid Back

404   Evidence from Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to the East Asia Inquiry, to be published in July as HC 860-v Back

405   See for example: "It is time to put security issues on the table with Iran", Financial Times, 18 January 2006; and "Security holds the key to the Tehran tangle", Financial Times, 2 February 2006 Back

406   Ev 199, Q 18 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

407   "Security holds the key to the Tehran tangle", Financial Times, 2 February 2006 Back

408   HC (2004-05) 36-I, para 364 Back

409   Ev 199, Q 18 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

410   Ev 198, Q 17 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

411   Q 218 Back

412   Ev 199, Q 18 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

413   Q 358 Back

414   Evidence from Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to the Inquiry into Developments in the European Union, to be published as HC 768-iv Back

415   Ev 197, Q 15 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

416   Ev 200, Q 23 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

417   "Sanctions against Iran 'bad idea'", BBC News Online, 30 March 2006, Back

418   Remarks by the Foreign Secretary, New York, 9 May 2006, available at: Back

419   "Europe proposes limited sanctions to halt Tehran's nuclear ambitions", The Guardian, 11 April 2006; and "EU considers Iran sanctions", EUObserver, 11 April 2006 Back

420   "Survival skills honed by embargo", Financial Times, 2 February 2006 Back

421   "They are marching as to war", Ali Ansari, The Independent on Sunday, 15 January 2006 Back

422   Ev 201, Q 31 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

423   "Survival skills honed by embargo", Financial Times, 2 February 2006 Back

424   "Iran: the path ahead", remarks by the Foreign Secretary, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 13 March 2006 Back

425   "Survival skills honed by embargo", Financial Times, 2 February 2006; and "Tehran searches for allies in Muslim world", Financial Times, 10 May 2006 Back

426   "The Iran Plans", The New Yorker, 17 April 2006 Back

427   "Bush dismisses report of military strike on Iran", The Independent, 11 April 2006 Back

428   "Bush keeps Iran military option", BBC News Online, 18 April 2006, Back

429   Q 91 Back

430   "Iran: the path ahead", remarks by the Foreign Secretary, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 13 March 2006 Back

431   HC Deb, 18 April 2006, col 117 Back

432   Remarks by the Foreign Secretary, New York, 9 May 2006, available at: Back

433   "America must use a wide lens for its strategy on Iran", Financial Times, 8 May 2006 Back

434   "Iran: Consequences of a war ", Oxford Research Group, February 2006 Back

435   "Strikes on Iran too risky, says US general", The Daily Telegraph, 2 May 2006 Back

436   "A grand bargain still only solution on Iran It is time to surmount hysteria and hyperbole on both sides", Financial Times, 15 May 2006 Back

437   Q 315 Back

438   Q 304 Back

439   Q 311 Back

440   Q 298 Back

441   Q 317 Back

442   HC (2004-05) 36-I, paras 23-24; and HC (2003-04) 81, paras 192-203 Back

443   Ev 195, Q 4 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

444   Ev 68 Back

445   Ev 68 Back

446   Remarks by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Roundtable With Australian, Indonesian and Latin American Journalists, Washington, DC, 9 March 2006 Back

447   "Iran tension", Financial Times, 18 April 2006 Back

448   "Iranian leader sparks alarm by saying Israel 'must be wiped off the map'", Financial Times, 27 October 2005 Back

449   Press conference at EU informal summit Hampton Court, 27 October 2005 Back

450   "Holocaust comments spark outrage", BBC News Online, 14 December 2005, Back

451   Ev 195, Q 5 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

452   Joint press conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Downing Street, 6 October, available at: Back

453   "Britain denies Iran bomb claims", BBC News Online, 16 October 2005, Back

454   "Bush accuses Iran of supplying Iraqi rebels", Financial Times, 14 March 2006 Back

455   Q 270 [Mr Said] Back

456   Q 270 [Mr Chehab] Back

457   "Tehran prepared to hold talks with Washington on Iraq", Financial Times, 17 March 2006 Back

458   Q 246 Back

459   HC (2005-06) 574, para 148 Back

460   HC (2005-06) 574, para 153 Back

461   HC (2005-06) 574, Ev 85-86 Back

462   HC (2005-06) 574, para 155 Back

463   Foreign & Commonwealth Office, First Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee; Session 2005-06; Annual Report on Human Rights 2005; Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6774, May 2006 Back

464   "Iran theocrats' coup: President Khatami's reformist project lies in ruins", Financial Times, 23 February 2004 Back

465   Ev 199, Q 18 (Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 February 2006, HC (2005-06) 904-i) Back

466   "Iran: the path ahead", remarks by the Foreign Secretary, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 13 March 2006 Back

467   Ibid Back

468   Ibid Back

469   Q 219 Back

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