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Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 31 October 2006

Iran has not taken the steps required in Security Council resolution 1696 and the International Atomic Energy Agency board resolutions, which would allow talks to begin on the basis of the generous proposals presented by Javier Solana on behalf of the E3+3 in June. I chaired a meeting of E3+3 Foreign Ministers in London on 6 October, and we agreed that there is now no option but to seek a new Security Council resolution imposing sanctions. We have begun consultations with partners.

I went on the Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation to Iran in June, when I was able to eyeball parliamentarians. Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the Iranian economy is in a fragile state and is haemorrhaging money in order to subsidise basic supplies to keep the masses placated? Until recently, the Guardian Council consistently vetoed legislation on money laundering in a country through which the bulk of the heroin trade passes and which has given large sums of money to terrorist organisations. Given that the US Administration have taken steps to isolate the Iranian regime financially by blocking the access of Iranian banks, what steps is the Foreign Secretary taking to encourage UK financial institutions to follow suit and to work with her European counterparts to isolate the Ahmadinejad regime financially and in terms of trade?

We have led the way in trying to persuade people to help to counteract money laundering. As I said in reply to an earlier question, we remain in close contact with our EU colleagues and our Russian, Chinese and American colleagues on the most effective way to deal with the position in Iran. We are anxious to try to maintain the balance between exerting firm and clear pressure on Iran to come to the negotiating table and not giving those who want to call off the negotiations the excuse to do so.