Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran, 29 November 2011

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield, Labour)
What recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on Iran.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
We worked closely with our EU partners in responding to the International Atomic Energy Agency report about the Iranian nuclear programme, and I hope we will reach further conclusions on Iran at this week’s Foreign Affairs Council.

John Baron (Basildon and Billericay, Conservative)
Given that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report provides no concrete evidence of a nuclear weapons programme—there is no smoking gun—does the Foreign Secretary accept that implied threats of military force could be counter-productive in that they could rally the people behind the hard-liners and drive whatever programme there is further underground?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
To be clear, the IAEA report of earlier in November speaks of its serious concerns at credible information about Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, so we should be clear about that. As my hon. Friend knows, we are not advocating military action. We are pursuing a twin-track approach of being open to meaningful negotiations but increasing the peaceful and legitimate pressure on Iran through sanctions, and we will continue with that approach.

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree, Labour)
I welcome the Government’s newly announced sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear programme. Ahead of the right hon. Gentleman’s forthcoming meeting with European counterparts in December to discuss the issue, what is he doing to encourage financial institutions across Europe to take action?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
The Government made an important announcement on that a week ago. Last Monday my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced that the British financial sector is required to sever all financial ties with Iranian banks. Similar action is being taken by the United States and Canada. I expect some other nations to follow suit and, as I mentioned earlier, we are now discussing within the European Union additional measures that will follow shortly.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran: Nuclear Programme, 29 November 2011

Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of Iran’s nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We, along with the rest of the international community, are gravely concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. The most recent report from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency is clear: Iran continues to flout six UN Security Council resolutions requiring it to suspend uranium enrichment, and has conducted significant military-related nuclear activities.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran, 29 November 2011

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on Iran.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
Recently we have been in close touch with our EU partners about the EU response to the International Atomic Energy Agency report about the Iranian nuclear programme. The EU is considering a range of additional measures against the Iranian nuclear programme, which it will announce in the coming days.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran: Nuclear Weapons, 24 November 2011

Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the report of the International Atomic Energy Authority on Iran’s development of nuclear missiles.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The UK fully supports the work of the director general and of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in producing this important report. They have handled a very sensitive issue with care and rigour, and have worked diligently to verify and validate the information that the report draws on. In response to the report, the IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution expressing its

“deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program”;

these are concerns we share.

The report itself clearly indicates that Iran has failed to address the IAEA’s “serious concerns” about the “credible” information available to it that

“indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device”.

It also presents evidence that provides a compelling picture of Iranian work on nuclear weapons technologies—not only up to 2003 but also beyond—and work on the continuation and expansion of its uranium enrichment programme, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Finally, the report clearly documents Iran’s repeated failures to co-operate with the agency. Iran must cease its attempts to deflect the legitimate concerns of the international community and co-operate with the agency, fully and without delay, to resolve them.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Post-Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council, 21 November 2011

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)
The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and General Affairs Council (GAC) were held on 14-15 November in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary attended the FAC (foreign affairs). My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for International Development attended the FAC (development). The UK Permanent Representative attended the GAC.

[…]Ministers agreed conclusions (see link) expressing increasing concern about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme and the lack of progress with diplomatic efforts. They also raised the prospect of reinforced sanctions measures in December. […]

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation, 1 November 2011

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the Royal Society’s proposal that his Department establish a non-proliferation and nuclear security network.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The Government are committed to tackling the challenges of nuclear proliferation and the risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear material. We recognise the importance of fostering collaboration between Government Departments, academia and industry in order to meet these challenges, and significant work already takes place in this regard that we would not wish to duplicate. For example, the Government’s key needs for technical advice and related support on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear security issues are met through the cross-government arrangements that were announced in the strategic defence and security review (SDSR). Co-ordination and oversight are provided through the Cabinet Office chaired counter proliferation committee, which reports to the National Security Council. My Department also engages with industry, science and academic forums on nuclear security best practice and professional development, notably as part of the Nuclear Security Summit process, and regularly briefs non-governmental organisations, industry, university students and international partners on this Government’s non-proliferation and nuclear security priorities. In addition, the newly-formed cross-Whitehall International Civil Nuclear Group provides a focal point for relevant organisations, industry and UK posts overseas to foster collaboration and international partnerships.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran, 25 October 2011

Mel Stride (Central Devon, Conservative)
What his policy is on sanctions against Iran; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We strongly support the use of targeted sanctions in relation to our concerns about Iran’s nuclear activity, its human rights abuses and the recently discovered international terrorist activity in the United States. The choice is clear: those who continue to follow such a course can either remain on it and face further sanctions and isolation or they can respond to the wishes of the international community and have those sanctions lifted.

Mel Stride (Central Devon, Conservative)
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he share with the House the Government’s assessment of the military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme, particularly given that the Iranians continue to refuse to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency?

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The IAEA is, in a sense, the keeper of the conscience of the world in relation to the bargain between those with nuclear weapons and those without. It has reported recently its increasing concern, as my hon. Friend says, about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme, and a further report is expected in November. Concerns have increased because of the news that the centrifuges are going to be moved to Qom, underground, and there is no civilian justification for the enrichment programme that Iran is working on. All those things are rightfully our concern.

Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire, Labour)
The IAEA called the weapons programme in Iran “extensive and comprehensive”. May I ask the Minister whether sanctions are working, what more the UN should do and whether he favours an extension of sanctions into oil and gas exports?

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The process of sanctions has been cumulative over time. There is evidence that they are beginning to have an impact on the economy in relation to Iran—above all, targeted on the individuals who are most responsible—but as well as the sanctions track there is a negotiations track. Nuclear powers have made it very clear, as have the E3 plus 3, that there is an opportunity for negotiation with Iran if it would be open about its nuclear policy. We urge Iran to follow that track so that sanctions can be lifted and the world can be convinced of the civilian purposes of Iran’s programme if that is, indeed, the case.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Central Asia, 25 October 2011

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
What recent steps he has taken to strengthen relations with countries in central Asia; and if he will make a statement.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
Until fairly recently central Asia was awash with nuclear weapons, but following the declaration by Kazakhstan and a number of other nations, a nuclear-weapon-free zone has been established there. Does the Minister welcome its establishment, and will he guarantee that NATO will comply with the zone and not overfly it with any nuclear weapons or nuclear-armed aircraft so that we show respect for that attempt to introduce peace to what was once a very tense region?

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)
We welcome any moves to reduce the threat from nuclear proliferation worldwide, and we look not only to the central Asian republics but to all signatories to the non-proliferation treaty to live up to their obligations fully.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran: Nuclear Power, 17 October 2011

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the Bushehr nuclear power project in Iran; and if he will make a statement.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
UN and EU sanctions against Iran have specifically allowed the construction and operation of the Bushehr power reactor. We have always respected Iran’s right to a peaceful civilian nuclear programme as long as it meets its international obligations and responsibilities. The Bushehr project underlines the fact that Iran does not need to pursue illegal activities in order to enjoy the benefits of nuclear power.

But it should be of serious concern that as Bushehr becomes operational, Iran will be the only country with a significant nuclear programme outside the convention on nuclear safety. Iran’s isolation means its nuclear programme falls short on safety in some key respects. The convention on nuclear safety is as system of mutual oversight that sets international benchmarks on the design, construction and operation of reactors. We are pleased that Russian experts are working to ensure Bushehr is operated safely, but full co-operation with the international community is the key to Iran accessing the best international expertise and realising the full potential of a safe, secure and economically viable nuclear power programme.

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Topical Questions, 19 July 2011

Ian Austin (Dudley North, Labour)
The development of nuclear weapons by Iran would not just trigger a middle eastern arms race, but would make it much more difficult to prevent Ahmadinejad from arming terrorists in the region. He is persisting with the illegal enrichment of uranium and continuing to call for Israel’s destruction, and has recently unveiled new missiles capable of reaching Israel. What more can the United Kingdom Government do to prevent Iran from acquiring those weapons?

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The hon. Gentleman is right about the concerns that the world shares about the development of Iran’s nuclear programme, on the subject of which it is being deliberately opaque. New sanctions were introduced only two weeks ago in relation to targeted individuals. The pressure of sanctions will continue from the world, and the determination of the world to see the nuclear programme opened to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has already expressed its concern, will continue until such time as Iran turns away from what appears to be a very dangerous course.

Oral Answers to Questions – Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, 19 July 2011

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
What recent progress his Department has made on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We continue to work across all three pillars of the non-proliferation treaty to build on the success of last year’s review conference in New York. I am particularly proud of the work we have done towards ensuring the first conference of nuclear weapon states, which was held recently in Paris—the P5 conference—in which further progress was made, particularly towards disarmament.

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
Does not the tumult of the Arab spring mean it would be a good idea to advance the date of the planned conference next year? That would give us a real chance positively to involve both Iran and Israel.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The conference to which the hon. Gentleman draws attention was designed to provide for a weapon of mass destruction-free middle east and was part of the outcome of the review conference in New York last year. The steps taken to build up confidence to get to that conference are obviously complex and although it would be good if it could be advanced, the practical difficulties will probably outweigh that. The fact that it is there on the table as something for people to work to for 2012 is a good thing and we should concentrate on that, but any hopes that it might be brought forward may be dashed.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Disarmament: Finance, 11 July 2011

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department’s budget is for stimulating nuclear disarmament initiatives in 2011-12.

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is set to spend approximately £140,000 in 2011-12 on nuclear disarmament projects relating to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty. This is in addition to resource allocated to nuclear disarmament related research by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Separate to our project spend, the majority of the FCO’s resource towards making progress on nuclear disarmament comprises staff for multilateral negotiations, working groups and table-top exercises.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Sanctions, 27 June 2011

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the enforcement of sanctions against Iran.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
On 23 May, the EU strengthened its sanctions against Iran by adding over one hundred more entities to its regulation. Until Iran recognises the need to engage meaningfully about the nature of its nuclear programme, we will continue to add further measures to increase pressure on Iran, including in partnership with the EU and others. We continue to work with all EU partners to ensure these measures are enforced.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, 22 June 2011

Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many meetings his Department has had with other nuclear armed signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to discuss the obligations of article VI of the treaty in the last 20 years.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), in close collaboration with our Ministry of Defence colleagues, has discussed the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT’s) article VT disarmament obligations with the four other nuclear weapon states recognised by the treaty on innumerable occasions over the last 20 years. We have discussed our obligations at NPT Review Conferences and Preparatory Committees, the Conference on Disarmament, the UN’s Disarmament Commission and First Committee, in bilateral ministerial and senior official meetings, and via videoconference. The FCO hosted a P5 Conference on nuclear disarmament in September 2009—bringing together for the first time policy makers, military staff and nuclear scientists from all five nuclear weapon states. We look forward to the next P5 Conference in Paris at the end of this month.

Oral Answers to Questions – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Japan, 3 May 2011

Charlie Elphicke (Dover, Conservative)
What reports he has received on the situation in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami; and if he will make a statement.

Jeremy Browne (Minister of State (South East Asia/Far East, Caribbean, Central/South America, Australasia and Pacific), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Taunton Deane, Liberal Democrat)
The earthquake and tsunami of 11 March have had a devastating impact on Japan. As of 27 April, 14,508 people have been confirmed dead, and 11,452 are still missing. There are no confirmed UK casualties. The UK has mobilised various resources to help the Japanese Government. We have sent a search and rescue team and provided other forms of support to the Japanese Government, including nuclear assistance. We receive regular reports from the Japanese authorities regarding ongoing work to make safe the Fukushima nuclear plant, and we are ready to offer further technical assistance as required.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover, Conservative)
Japan is a major friend, ally and trading partner of the UK, and it is right that we should be there for a friend in need. Will the Minister tell us what help is being given to assist its economic recovery, and what steps are being taken to help following the nuclear disaster?

Jeremy Browne (Minister of State (South East Asia/Far East, Caribbean, Central/South America, Australasia and Pacific), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Taunton Deane, Liberal Democrat)
I completely agree with my hon. Friend’s assertion about the deep friendship between the United Kingdom and Japan. We have expressed that friendship and it has been evident in our actions. Our economies are intertwined, but we are also leading the debate within the European Union on a free trade agreement between the EU and Japan.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North, Labour)
Has the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK been asked to supply any expertise on the decommissioning of contaminated water at the plant? I understand that that is one of the more considerable problems that the Japanese authorities are facing.

Jeremy Browne (Minister of State (South East Asia/Far East, Caribbean, Central/South America, Australasia and Pacific), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Taunton Deane, Liberal Democrat)
We have made it clear to the Japanese from the outset that we are willing to offer any expertise that might benefit them, but it is worth reminding the House that Japan is an extremely sophisticated country with an extremely developed economy and highly reputable scientists. It is therefore able to make many of those decisions for itself.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran: Sanctions, 23 March 2011

David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had on the effectiveness of the Iranian sanctions programme imposed by the international community in meeting its objectives; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
We, and our E3+3 partners, are gravely concerned by the Iranian nuclear programme. We continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to the issue, through the dual track policy of pressure and engagement.

Sanctions are having an impact and have slowed the programme. But Iran has yet to resolve our concerns on meeting its obligations. So we believe further pressure will be required.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Syria: Nuclear Power, 23 March 2011

David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of Syria’s nuclear programme; what recent discussions he has had with (a) the government of Israel, (b) the Palestinian Authority, (c) the government of Egypt, (d) the Arab League, (e) the government of Jordan, (f) his EU counterparts and (g) the United Nations Secretary General on this issue; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The UK strongly supports the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) investigations on Syria and welcomes the recent report by the Director General on Syria’s nuclear activities. It is important that Syria co-operates with this international body and ensures that the IAEA can complete its investigations.

We urge Syria to comply with the IAEA’s requests to be given further access to Syria’s nuclear sites, and to provide documentation on these sites. We believe it is in Syria’s interests to provide full transparency in order to allow the agency to investigate effectively.

We discuss the issue of Syria’s nuclear programme regularly within the EU, but have not recently raised bilaterally with the countries listed.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Nuclear Power, 18 March 2011

David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the Iranian nuclear programme; what recent discussions he has had with (a) the government of Israel, (b) the Palestinian Authority, (c) the government of Egypt, (d) the Arab League, (e) the government of Jordan, (f) his EU counterparts and (g) the United Nations Secretary General on this issue; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)

We, and our E3+3 partners, are gravely concerned by the Iranian nuclear programme. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency highlights the lack of Iranian transparency over a range of outstanding concerns, including possible military dimensions to their programme. It shows that Iran is enriching uranium in defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions, and has produced 3,606kg of 3.5% and 43.6kg of 20% low enriched uranium.

We have regular discussions with Israel, all countries in the Arab League, as well as EU and UN counterparts on this issue.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran: Sanctions, 18 March 2011

David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Arab League on the Iranian sanctions programme; what response was received; and if he will make a statement. [R]

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)

We, and our E3+3 partners, are gravely concerned by the Iranian nuclear programme. We continue to pursue a diplomatic solution to the issue, through the dual track policy of pressure and engagement. We regularly discuss this with a range of international partners including those in the Arab League.

Written answers and statements – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Iran, 15 March 2011

Jonathan Lord (Woking, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the state of the Iranian nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
We, and our E3+3 partners, are gravely concerned by the Iranian nuclear programme. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency highlights the lack of Iranian transparency over a range of outstanding concerns, including possible military dimensions to its programme. It shows that Iran is enriching uranium in defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions, and has produced 3,606 kg of 3.5% and 43.6 kg of 20% low enriched uranium.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Nuclear Power, 4 March 2011

David Cairns (Inverclyde, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) his Israeli counterpart and (b) his EU counterparts on (i) Iran’s nuclear capabilities and (ii) the effectiveness of existing sanctions on Iran.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), regularly discusses Iran’s nuclear programme and the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran with his Israeli and EU counterparts. Officials also have regular discussions with Israeli and EU counterparts on Iran’s armed forces.

These discussions are informed by the regular reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which continue to highlight continued Iranian non-compliance with its obligations. International sanctions, including those adopted by the UN and the EU, show the strength of international concern about Iran’s nuclear programme. It is clear that these sanctions are having an impact. Iran is finding it increasingly difficult to acquire goods of proliferation concern and is also finding it harder to access international finance. But, following Iranian behaviour at the latest round of EU3+3 talks in Istanbul, it is also clear that the pressure on Iran needs to increase.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Nuclear Power, 8 February 2011

Matthew Offord (Hendon, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the role of multinational institutions in curbing the development of a nuclear weapons capability in Iran.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
International sanctions, including those adopted by the UN and the EU, show the strength of international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. It is clear that sanctions are having an impact. Iran is finding it increasingly difficult to acquire access to goods of proliferation concern and is also finding it hard to access international finance, restricting its ability to fund its nuclear programme.

Inspections and reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continue to reveal the progress of Iran’s nuclear programme and highlight the areas where Iran is refusing to co-operate with the IAEA or comply with its safeguards obligations. This ensures that IAEA concerns over possible military dimensions to the Iranian programme are available for all to see.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Lebanon: Arms Trade, 7 February 2011

David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the transport of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon; what recent discussions he has had with the government of Iran on this issue; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)

We remain concerned by reports of weapons transfers to Hizballah, including Hizballah’s own claims that it possesses significant military capabilities.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary during his recent visit to Syria made clear and firm representations to President Assad and Foreign Minister Muallem on the dangers to the stability of the region in allowing the smuggling of weapons to Hizballah. Our officials continue to raise UN Security Council resolution 1701 and the smuggling of weapons to Hizballah at the highest level during our regular dialogue with Syrian counterparts.

We remain concerned that Iran is undermining regional peace and stability, including through weapons transfers. We continue to call on Iran to play a constructive role in the region, including through restoring international confidence in its nuclear programme. We continue to make our views clear through interventions at the UN on UN Security Council resolutions 1701 and 1559.

Written Answers – Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Sanctions, 7 February 2011

David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on the effectiveness of international sanctions programme against Iran; and if he will make a statement.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I have had discussions on the international sanctions programme against Iran with many of our counterparts. It is clear that sanctions are having an impact. Iran is finding it increasingly difficult to acquire access to goods of proliferation concern and is also finding it hard to access international finance, restricting its ability to fund its nuclear programme. We believe these sanctions and other pressures brought Iran back into talks with the EU 3+3 but its disappointing failure to engage on the substance of international concerns mean that pressure will now need to increase.

Oral Answers to Questions – Prime Minister: BBC World Service, 26 January 2011

Julian Huppert (Cambridge, Liberal Democrat)
Asked what analysis has the Foreign Secretary made of the benefits to Britain’s foreign, development and even domestic policy objectives of spending on the World Service versus spending on Trident?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Both are absolutely essential for the future security of this country.

Written Answers, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uranium, Proliferation risk, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 26 January 2011

Eric Joyce (Falkirk, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the (a) security of and (b) likely effect on nuclear disarmament of a consignment of partially-enriched uranium abandoned in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Henry Bellingham (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Africa and the United Nations), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North West Norfolk, Conservative)

We are aware of recent reports regarding the security of nuclear materials, including in the November 2010 UN Group of Experts report. We take such reports of potential proliferation of nuclear materials seriously, and work with international partners to address such threats.

Written Answers, North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 24 January 2011

Simon Kirby (Brighton, Kemptown, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with his (a) American and (b) Chinese counterpart on the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula; and if he will make a statement.

Jeremy Browne (Minister of State (South East Asia/Far East, Caribbean, Central/South America, Australasia and Pacific), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Taunton Deane, Liberal Democrat)

My right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary discussed North Korea most recently with the Chinese Government during the visit of Li Keqiang earlier this month. We talk regularly to the US Government in Washington and Seoul on North Korea. We strongly support a process which involves building trust and confidence between North and South Korea with the view of seeing a return to negotiations. All parties in the region have a strong interest in this and we have made clear that we would consider any request to provide practical assistance.

Written Answers, Arms Control and Disarmament, Geneva, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 18 January 2011

Julian Huppert (Cambridge, Liberal Democrat)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he plans to maintain the post of Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament after the end of the current Ambassador’s term of office in 2011.

Alistair Burt (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Afghanistan/South Asia, counter terrorism/proliferation, North America, Middle East and North Africa), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; North East Bedfordshire, Conservative)

Following an internal reorganisation to our multilateral diplomatic posts in Switzerland, the responsibilities currently held by the Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament have been redistributed to ensure that Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) resources are best placed to service both Geneva and non-Geneva based work. When the current Ambassador’s term ends in 2011, we will retain the post of UK permanent representative to the conference on disarmament in Geneva. However leadership of the UK delegations to the non-proliferation treaty and the arms trade treaty will revert to the relevant heads of department at the FCO in London. This will ensure even greater Whitehall and ministerial co-ordination across the multilateral arms control and disarmament community, including on the arms trade treaty as we approach the critical UN negotiating conference in 2012. I can confirm that multilateral arms control and disarmament continue to be a high priority for the FCO.

Written Answers, Iran, Nuclear Talks, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 12 January 2011

Lord Kilclooney (Crossbench)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent developments there have been in diplomatic relations with the Government of Iran.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Conservative)

We believe that good diplomatic relations are in the interests of both the UK and Iran, and that a successful outcome to the nuclear talks would transform relations for the better. It is regrettable that some Iranian officials have reacted so strongly to recent British statements-worsening relations help neither side. However, part of a mature relationship is being able to discuss differences openly, including concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme and the human rights situation, and we will continue to take every opportunity to do so.