The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
My Lords, I wish to repeat as a Statement an Answer given to an Urgent Question in the other place by my right honourable friend the Minister for Asia. The Statement is as follows:
“The UK notes with great concern the statement made by Iran today concerning its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We are analysing the detail of it and are in close contact with other parties to the deal, but I have to say to the House that today’s announcement from Tehran is an unwelcome step. I urge Iran not to take further escalatory steps and to stand by its commitments. We are not at this stage talking of reimposing sanctions but one has to remember that they were lifted in exchange for nuclear restrictions as part of the JCPOA. Should Iran cease meeting its nuclear commitments, there would of course be consequences.
For as long as Iran keeps its commitments, so will the United Kingdom. It is critical that we maintain an open dialogue with Iran. The Foreign Office political director visits Tehran this week to discuss this and a range of bilateral issues. I hope to visit Iran in the coming months.
In this regard, we recall our own firm commitments under the deal, including sanctions lifting for the benefit of the Iranian people. The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the JCPOA. It aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with that country but, most importantly, on the lives of many of the Iranian people, who have had such a tough time in recent decades. We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the United States following its withdrawal from the JCPOA.
The UK, along with the remaining participants to the JCPOA—France, Germany, Russia and China—are committed to working on sanctions relief for Iran, together with third countries interested in supporting the JCPOA. We are determined to pursue efforts, together with other European partners, to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran. The UK and our European partners met Iranian officials only yesterday in Brussels to discuss the next steps needed to operationalise the special purpose vehicle, INSTEX, which is aimed to facilitate legitimate trade with Iran.
Even at this stage, we encourage all countries, including Russia and China as JCPOA participants, to make their best efforts to pursue the sanctions relief that the agreement allows for through concrete steps. We take this opportunity to call on countries not party to the JCPOA to refrain from taking any actions that impede the remaining parties’ ability fully to perform their commitments.
Finally, it is important to remember that the UK remains clear-eyed about Iran’s destabilising activity in other parts of the Middle East, including its ballistic missile programme, which must now be addressed. However, we see this being best done with the JCPOA remaining in place”.