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Iran

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

The Foreign Secretary met his Russian opposite number on 25 September to discuss Iran. He also took part in a meeting of E3 plus 3 Foreign Ministers on 26 September. Political directors from the E3 plus 3 last met on 19 September and are scheduled to meet again on 13 November. An official from our embassy in Moscow most recently discussed Iran with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 16 October.

Over the past few years, Russia has used energy as a weapon to bully other countries. Is it therefore a credible option to offer the Iranians Russian fuel as a way out of the nuclear impasse? Is it not about time that the United States and the west went their own way with some imaginative thinking in trying to solve the Iranian problem, rather than waiting for an ever more totalitarian Russia and an ambivalent China?

Part of the resolution of that problem has to be to ensure the meeting of the legitimate civilian nuclear needs of Iran, and Russia can be helpful in that regard. However, we should be in no doubt that significant concerns remain about the willingness of the Iranian Government to engage with safeguard provision. We need to press them through sanctions and other measures. A significant offer is on the table from the E3 plus 3 process and we have to push internationally for Iran to engage with that process.

Does my hon. Friend believe that the strength of economic and political ties between Russia and Iran is undermining international sanctions aimed at putting an end to the Iranians’ development of nuclear power?

Russian has supported all five UN Security Council resolutions in respect of Iran’s nuclear obligations. It remains the case that we expect all our partners in the E3 plus 3 process to do everything possible to fulfil their commitments to stop Iran generating and developing nuclear capability.

Are the Government convinced that the objectives of Russian policy vis-à-vis Iran are the same as those of Her Majesty’s Government?

On the nuclear issue, yes, I believe that that is the case. On five occasions at the Security Council Russia has voted with us in respect of those resolutions, urging Iran to engage. We expect all our partners to fulfil their commitments to stop Iran getting that nuclear capability, and we believe that they will work with us.

Does my hon. Friend agree that if we want to build better co-operation with Russia on the subject of Iran and the nuclear issue, the strident anti-Russian remarks of the likes of the shadow Foreign Secretary are not at all helpful?