Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from
the Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Team, Foreign and Commonwealth
Thank you for your letter 19 October. I hope
this letter fully answers your questions.
Further to the response to recommendation 22,
the Committee wishes to receive a progress report on implementation
of the Agreement on Movement and Access. What steps has HMG been
taking to achieve implementation of the Agreement?
After the Agreement on Movement and Access was
signed on 15 November 2005 there was notable early progress on
the Rafah crossing. On average 1,200 Palestinians a day were using
the crossing into and out of Gaza, which opened nearly every day
for around five hours. By 25 June, 280,000 people had used the
crossing. It made a dramatic difference to the freedom of movement
of Palestinians. Since the abduction of Corporal Shalit on 25
June, however, the crossing has been largely closed.
Progress on other sections of the agreement
has been disappointing. The crossing points between Gaza and Israel
have frequently been closed. The United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) has reported an
increase in the number of obstacles to movement within the West
Bank during 2006. The convoys between Gaza and the West Bank
that were envisaged in the Agreement have not been set up. Construction
of the Gaza seaport has not commenced, and discussions on a Gaza
airport have achieved little.
The UK continues to believe that the Agreement
on Movement and Access should be fully implemented. We continue
to encourage the parties to implement the agreement. The lack
of further progress has been disappointing. This reflects the
deterioration of the security situation, and the breakdown of
communication between Israel and the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority
government. Progress on these two issues could lead to progress
on the implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access.
We continue to urge restraint on all sides and encourage the Hamas-led
govemment to accept the three Principles set out by the Quartet
as a way of resuming dialogue with Israel.
The UK has been closely involved with General
Dayton's plans for the Kami crossing. The UK has seconded a military
officer to General Dayton's team to advise on plans to improve
security at Kami, to enable Palestinians to export their harvests
through it. We fully support his plans and are looking at ways
to provide further practical assistance in their implementation.
We have raised our concerns about the closure
of the crossing points between Gaza and Israel with the Israeli
Government. The EU demarched Israel about the Rafah crossing point
on 13 September. At the General Affairs and External Relations
Council, EU Foreign Ministers have concluded that the Agreement
on Movement and Access should be implemented by both sides. The
Quartet has also reiterated this call adding that Rafah and all
other passages should remain open consistent with relevant agreements.
Further to the response to recommendation 25,
the Committee wishes to know what further progress has been made
with training Iraqi security forces, including the Iraqi police,
and what is the Government's current assessment of the ability
of those forces to take responsibility for security in those areas
in the South where security is currently provided by the British-led
The development of a capable, legitimate and
representative Iraqi Security Force remains a high priority for
the Iraqi Government and the Multinational Forces. The Iraqi Army
is now some 129,760 strong. Although many of the challenges outlined
in our initial response remain, notably in the areas of intelligence,
command and control, logistics and equipment, we judge that the
Iraqi Army continues to make progress. The Iraqi Army's 10th Division,
now numbering 11,558, has exceeded expectations in its
involvement with the current Iraqi-led security operation in Basra,
which began in late September. It is now taking the initiative
in providing framework security for the reconstruction efforts
being undertaken in parallel with the security operation.
The Iraqi Police Service (IPS) nationally numbers
128,008. Significant problems remain with the IPS in southern
Iraq, as elsewhere in the country. These problems include infiltration
by militias, and in some provinces, notably Basra, units of the
IPS have been implicated in violent incidents. We are working
with the Ministry of Interior to develop Iraqi capacity to bring
corrupt and criminal policemen to justice, and have recently stepped
up our training and mentoring effort to the police service in
Basra. However, tackling the problem of militia influence over
the police will be a long-term challenge for the Government of
Iraq and its partners.
As we outlined in our reply to the FAC, the
Joint Committee to Transfer Security Responsibility is the body
that makes recommendations on the readiness of individual provinces
or cities for transfer of lead responsibility for security from
the MNF to the Iraqi local authorities. These recommendations
are then put to the Iraqi Prime Minister for decision. The JCTSR
is composed of representatives from the Iraqi Government, Multinational
Force, and the US and UK Governments.
The JCTSR makes its recommendations on the basis
of assessments of: the threat level; the Iraqi Security Forces'
ability to take on the security task; the capacity of provincial
bodies to govern effectively; and the posture and support available
from Coalition Forces after the transfer of lead security responsibility.
In August the JCTSR recommended that Dhi Qar province was ready
to be handed over to Iraqi security forces responsibility and
PM Maliki accepted this recommendation. The formal handover took
place on 21 September. Maysan and Basra, the remaining provinces
in MND SE where MNF I has lead security responsibility, have not
yet been assessed against the conditions outlined above as being
ready for hand-over to Iraqi security responsibility.
Further to the response to recommendation 39,
the Committee wishes to receive an update on the latest position
with respect to the Iranian nuclear programme, and on what specific
steps HMG has been taking to resolve the situation.
Iran has not taken any steps since September
to address international concerns about its nuclear programme.
In particular, it has not suspended its uranium enrichment related
and reprocessing activities, as required by the IAEA Board of
Governors and the United Nations Security Council. On the contrary,
it has continued to expand its enrichment activity: the Atomic
Energy Organisation of Iran said on 28 October that Iran has begun
enriching uranium in a second 164-centrifuge cascade.
The E3+3 (UK, France, Germany +- China, Russia,
US) have continued to show flexibility in our search for a negotiated
solution. On behalf of the E3+3, EU High Representative Javier
Solana engaged in intensive discussions with the Secretary General
of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, over
the course of September. These were aimed at exploring whether
Iran was prepared to meet IAEA Board and Security Council requirements
and begin negotiations with the E3+3 on the basis of our far-reaching
June proposals. After some positive indications in early September
that Iran might be prepared to do so, Dr Larijani told Dr Solana
in Berlin on 28 September that Iran was not in fact prepared to
suspend uranium enrichment. President Ahmadinejad also said publicly
on the same day that Iran would not suspend "even for one
day". Iran has not given any indication that it is prepared
to meet other IAEI Board and Security Council requirements, such
as the resumption of co-operation with the IAEA on Additional
The Foreign Secretary chaired a meeting of E3+3
Foreign Ministers with Dr Solana in London on 6 October to
review the situation. The Ministers agreed that Iran's failure
to meet Security Council requirements left no choice but to consult
on the adoption of a new Resolution imposing sanctions. The aim
of these sanctions will be to constrain Iran's ability to develop
a nuclear weapons programme and to put political pressure on the
regime to meet IAEA Board and Security Council requirements and
return to talks. We are now discussing a new Resolution with Council
Iran's failure to engage on the E3+3's June
proposals is deeply disappointing and raises further questions
about Iran's real motives. The proposals would give Iran everything
it needs to develop a modern civil nuclear power industry, including
active support for the building of new light water reactors in
Iran through international joint projects and legally-binding
assurances relating to the supply of nuclear fuel. They would
also bring Iran significant political and economic benefits, which
would help promote trade, attract investment and create jobs for
Iran's young population, as well as allow for the possible lifting
of US sanctions in some areas of real need for Iran.
We remain committed to finding a negotiated
solution. The E3+3 proposals remain on the table, as does our
offer to suspend further action in the Security Council if Iran
takes the steps required by the IAEA Board.
Further to the response to recommendation 48,
the Committee wishes to receive a fuller statement of the Government's
policy towards establishing a permanent section of the IAFA to
deal with non-state actors and in particular, whether the Government
is satisfied that sufficient funding is available for this aspect
of the IAFA's work.
As the fourth largest contributor to the IAEA's
budget, the UK continually assesses the Agency's work and organisation.
The UK supports the Agency's work on non-state actors and encourages
effective coordination both within the Agency and externally with
the enforcement divisions in Member States. One of the roles of
the Agency is to provide individual Member States with the information
that they need to take action to deal with the threat of non-state
actors. The IAEA has a limited role in dealing directly with the
The UK believes that the current structure and
funding of the IAEA is sensible and would not benefit from change.
At present it is structured towards its primary purpose, that
is, within the terms of its Statute, to play an effective role
in combating global nuclear proliferationwhatever its origin.
The UK is satisfied that, at present, sufficient funding is available
to the IAEA for this work. The establishment of a permanent section
of the IAEA to deal with non-state actors would not make the Agency
any more effective in this area.
Are all three phases of the deployment of the
new UN force in Lebanon complete? What contribution has been made
by the UK (a) to UNIFIL and (b) to training and/or equipping the
Lebanese armed forces?
The UNIFIL mission is envisaged to deploy in
three phases. Phase 1 (25 August29 October), Phase 2 (30
October19 November) and Phase 3 (19 November onwards).
As of 25 October, 8,818 troops had been deployed to UNIFIL+. The
French and Italians are providing the core of the force. The Germans
are leading a Maritime Task Force. The strength is 15,000 as authorised
under UNSCR 1701.
The UK offered to provide support to the UNIFIL
mission including the use of our Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus
and provision of a naval logistician to assist the UN. The UK
also provided HMS York to the UN-sponsored interim maritime task
force in September and October. This task force was replaced by
a follow-on force, under UNIFIL command, on 15 October.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council,
the UK pays a premium contribution to the costs of UN operations.
This year our contribution is expected to be approximately £16
The UK has committed £2.5 million to security
sector assistance in Lebanon. A minute was placed before parliament
detailing UK proposals to supply the Lebanese with 50 vehicles.
This met no objections and the contract has been signed. The Ministry
of Defence is also planning to provide counter terrorism training
and we are looking to identify the equipment and training needs
of the security forces and co-ordinating donor responses. We have
allocated £320,000 for counter terrorism assistance in Lebanon,
including training for border security, police capacity building
and aviation security. We are also working with US, EU and other
international partners to co-ordinate international support for
the Lebanese Security Forces.
Parliamentary Relations and Devolution Team, Foreign
and Commonwealth Office
10 November 2006