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Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations were made by Iran to the EU High Representative during recent P5+1 discussions on the (a) P5+1 set of proposals agreed in Vienna on 1 June, (b) conditions of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme and (c) suspension of nuclear enrichment by Iran as resolved by the UN Security Council; and if she will make a statement. (101963)

On 6 June, the EU High Representative, Javier Solana, presented proposals to Iran on behalf of the ‘E3+3’ (France, Germany, UK plus China, Russia, US). The proposals are far-reaching and intended as the basis for a long-term agreement. They 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; co-operation in nuclear research in areas that are not proliferation sensitive and possible provision of a light water research reactor; and legally binding assurances relating to the supply of nuclear fuel.

In return, the E3+3 asked that Iran should refrain from all uranium enrichment related and reprocessing activities until international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its programme has been restored. Such activities are not essential for Iran to develop a modern civil nuclear power programme, but would allow Iran to develop know-how that could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. The suspension is a requirement of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board and the UN Security Council.

The E3+3 proposals would establish a foundation for greater long-term political and economic co-operation between Iran and the international community, by providing assistance with Iran’s World Trade Organisation application and a strategic energy partnership and a Trade and Co-operation Agreement with the EU. These benefits would help develop trade and attract foreign investment to Iran. The proposals also offer support for a new conference on regional security issues and the possible lifting of US sanctions in some areas of great benefit to the Iranian economy, including civil aircraft, telecoms and agriculture.

The E3+3 made clear that in order for talks to begin, Iran would need to address the requirements of the IAEA Board and the UN Security Council, including the requirement that it should suspend all uranium enrichment related and reprocessing activities. We said that if Iran did so, we would be prepared to suspend further action in the Security Council.

Despite persistent efforts by Dr. Solana, the Iranians declined to engage substantively on the proposals during June and July, including at a meeting in Brussels on 11 July between Dr. Solana (supported by E3 and Russian Political Directors) and the Secretary-General of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani (and the full Iranian negotiating team). Dr. Larijani did not ask any serious questions about the proposals, and would not say whether Iran was prepared to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Since it was over three months since the Security Council had asked Iran to suspend and there was no sign that Iran was willing to do so, we decided it was necessary to resume activity in the Security Council. On 31 July, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1696, which inter alia made the suspension legally binding and asked the IAEA to report on compliance by 31 August.

Iran formally responded to the proposals on 22 August. The lengthy response did not indicate that Iran would be prepared to meet IAEA Board and Security Council requirements. The IAEA reported on 31 August that Iran had not reinstated the suspension.

The E3+3 remain committed to a negotiated solution and have continued to show flexibility. Despite the passing of the 31 August deadline, Dr. Solana had a series of exchanges with Dr. Larijani in September to see if Iran could be persuaded to take the steps that would allow negotiations to begin. Dr. Solana indicated that the E3+3 might be prepared to be flexible about the modalities for opening negotiations if Iran was prepared to meet Security Council and IAEA Board requirements. But after some positive indications in early September, Dr. Larijani told Dr. Solana in Berlin on 28 September that Iran was not prepared to resume the suspension. President Ahmadinejad also said publicly on 28 September that Iran would not suspend ‘even for one day’. Iran has also given no indication that it is prepared to meet other IAEA Board requirements, such as the resumption of co-operation with the IAEA on Additional Protocol terms, which was also highlighted in our June proposals.

I chaired a meeting of E3+3 Foreign Ministers and Dr. Solana in London on 6 October to review the situation. We agreed that Iran’s failure to address Security Council requirements left no choice but to consult on the adoption of measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter, as envisaged in Resolution 1696. Consultations on a new Security Council Resolution have now begun. This does not mean the end of our efforts to find a negotiated solution. Ministers made clear in London that the E3+3 proposals remain on the table.

The IAEA Director-General’s latest report on 14 November again confirms that Iran has not taken any steps to reinstate the suspension. Indeed Iran began enriching uranium in a second 164-centrifuge cascade on 13 October. This is a move in the wrong direction. Iran needs to take steps that will build confidence; expanding its enrichment activities in defiance of the IAEA Board and the Security Council will only have the opposite effect.

I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the E3+3 proposals and the Iranian reply of 22 August, both of which have been circulated as documents of the Security Council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her Department's policy is on the proposed extradition to Iran of the Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf, South East Baghdad; and if she will make a statement. (103575)

The residents of Camp Ashraf are subject to the laws of Iraq, including laws on residency and immigration. We would expect the Government of Iraq to implement these laws fairly and with due regard to the rights of those concerned. Camp Ashraf residents who have not personally been involved in illegal activities are free to leave the camp and return to their home countries if they have the appropriate travel documents. A number have already voluntarily returned to Iran, where they are now living. Some 300 of the approximately 3,500 residents of the camp have chosen to return to Iran with assistance and support from the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki recently announced that he would establish a committee to look into the continuing residence in Iraq of those people living in Camp Ashraf, who in the main are not Iraqi nationals. But we are not aware of any plans to extradite Camp Ashraf residents to Iran.