UK policy towards Iran - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. It would be in the UK's interest to have a mature and constructive relationship with Iran on many levels: political, strategic, commercial and cultural. Yet this remains an ideal which is far from being achieved. Relations between the UK and Iran have been strained for years and suffer from lack of trust on both sides, born of a fear that one side is seeking to destabilise or thwart the other, and a perception on both sides that their interests rarely coincide. This perception has been reinforced by missed opportunities at various times by both countries.

2. The immediate threat is Iran's progress towards acquisition of a military nuclear capability, and the possibility that Iran could, within weeks, produce enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead. However, our inquiry has taken place at a time when political change in Iran has led to progress in reaching an accommodation with Iran on its nuclear programme; and there is a widespread sense that the prospects for reaching a long-term settlement which would assuage fears about regional security are better than they have ever been. In this Report, we assess that perception and the implications for the UK's policy towards Iran.

3. Our findings are based upon oral evidence from five individual witnesses as well as members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Iran, and the Foreign Secretary and FCO officials. Transcripts of evidence given by each witness, as well as written evidence received, are published on the internet.[1] Although we did not travel to Iran in connection with this inquiry, we held a private meeting on 24 February with the Iranian Charge d'Affaires in London; and we have also drawn on information gathered during our visit to the offices of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and from meetings with a number of Permanent Representatives to the IAEA, in March 2013. We are, as always, grateful to all those who have helped us during the course of the inquiry.


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Prepared 14 July 2014