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Volume 535: debated on Monday 14 November 2011

18. What steps his Department is taking in co-operation with other countries to develop future defence initiatives against Iran and to prevent the build-up of that country's nuclear weapons technology. (80086)

The MOD conducts contingency planning for numerous possible scenarios around the world. However, the UK continues to work with other countries to achieve a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We want a negotiated solution, not a military one, but all options should be kept on the table.

Do the recent visits by the Chief of the Defence Staff to Tel Aviv and the Israeli Defence Minister to London suggest that Her Majesty’s Government are seeking a closer defence relationship with Israel, with Iran at the top of the agenda?

The recent visit to Israel by the Chief of the Defence Staff was part of his long-standing programme of visits. He visited both Israel and the occupied west bank, he was able to speak to both the Israeli chief of staff and the Palestinian Prime Minister, and he assessed for himself the security concerns at first hand and urged the two sides to resume direct talks. I have no doubt that during his visit he also discussed the wider security implications in the region.