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Iran

Volume 986: debated on Thursday 19 June 1980

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Q3.

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied that trade sanctions against Iran are working.

Bearing in mind that sanctions have been in force only since 30 May, it is too early to judge.

Can the Prime Minister give us one or two examples of com- modities that the Iranians can no longer buy as a result of sanctions? Why does the right hon. Lady believe that our sanctions will be more successful—[HON. MEMBERS : "Reading".]—than the action of such countries as Austria, which is using only diplomatic means to try to bring about the release of the hostages?

With respect, it is a little soon to give examples of what the Iranians cannot buy. The sanctions have been in force for only about three weeks. As the hon. Gentleman is well aware, we agreed, as did our European partners and Japan, to implement sanctions on goods and contracts that would otherwise have been supplied in the future, against the holding of the hostages in Iran. We believe that to be right. Those sanctions will come off when the hostages are released.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, although the hostages are out of sight, they are not out of mind, and that the West is using full and continuous diplomatic efforts to get them released?

I am happy to confirm that. We must never accept this terrible thing that has happened to the American diplomats in Iran. We must always be willing and very active in their interests to secure their release by every diplomatic means possible.

If the hon. Gentleman tables a question at regular intervals, he will find out. We already know of at least one firm that is not quoting for a contract because it would be contrary to the order. I stress that we are trying to secure the release of hostages by diplomatic and economic means. In due course, we shall be able to judge.