Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 04 December 2012

Grahame Morris (Easington, Labour)
In the light of the increasing instability in the middle east and concerns about a possible nuclear arms race in the region, will the Foreign Secretary tell us what pressure the British Government are exerting on Israel to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
This is a long-running issue, on top of all the other issues concerning Israel and the middle east that we have discussed today. Israel has maintained a position over decades of not signing the NPT. In the last review conference of the NPT we strongly encouraged that there should be a conference dedicated to the middle east, and a Finnish facilitator of that conference has now been appointed. Disappointingly, the conference is not taking place this year, but we hope it will take place soon.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 15 October 2012

Bob Russell (Colchester, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

(1) on how many occasions in the last 10 weeks he has discussed with (a) his Israeli and (b) American counterpart a possible armed attack by Israel on Iran; and if he will make a statement;

(2) when he last discussed with representatives of other member states of the European Union a possible armed attack by Israel on 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)
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers, senior officials and I discuss Iran regularly with our American and Israeli counterparts.

We have made it clear to Israel, as the US has done, that a real chance should be given to the approach we have adopted to the Iranian nuclear issue: serious economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure and negotiations with Iran. While we have made clear that all options remain on the table, we are not advocating military action in the current circumstances.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 17 September 2012

Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency of an increase in the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges 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)
The director general’s report of 30 August shows that Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, and is significantly expanding its uranium enrichment capacity, in direct contravention of multiple International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board and Security Council resolutions. Iran’s rapid installation of centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility over recent months is cause for considerable concern. Iran can have no civilian use for the significant quantities of enriched material the facility could now produce. We continue to urge Iran to cooperate with the IAEA. To restore international confidence in its intentions, Iran needs to demonstrate sustained co-operation with the IAEA and transparency across its nuclear programme.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Middle East – 11 July 2012

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what delegation the UK plans to send to the Helsinki conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference on a nuclear-weapons free Middle East in December 2012.

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 delegation to the conference on achieving a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone will be determined once further details have been announced by the conference facilitator. These include the date and other practical arrangements. As co-convener of the conference, the UK is committed to its delivery. We fully support the work of the facilitator Mr Jaako Laajava, to bring all parties of the region together to discuss this issue.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: North Korea – 20 June 2012

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. delegation to the conference on achieving a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone will be determined once further details have been announced by the conference facilitator. These include the date and other practical arrangements. As co-convener of the conference, the UK is committed to its delivery. We fully support the work of the facilitator Mr Jaako Laajava, to bring all parties of the region together to discuss this issue.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: North Korea – 20 June 2012

Jim Shannon (Strangford, DUP)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government has had with the US on the provision of a food aid package for North Korea in return for stops in nuclear testing, uranium enrichment and long range missiles.

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 British Government has held a number of discussions with the US Administration, in Washington, Seoul and London, about the details of the 29 February deal between the US and North Korea; and the prospects for a return to 6 Party Talks.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 12 June 2012

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(1) when he is next due to meet his EU counterparts to discuss the implementation of EU sanctions to prevent EU countries from providing insurance for the transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products;
(2) what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts about the predicted economic effect of EU sanctions to prevent EU countries from providing insurance for the transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products;
(3) when EU sanctions will come into force to prevent EU countries from providing insurance for the transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
The UK and our international partners are committed to increasing the pressure on Iran until it negotiates seriously on the nuclear issue. The EU ban on insurance for the transport of Iranian crude and petroleum products (Protection and Indemnity insurance) is due to take effect on 1 July, alongside the embargo on oil imports. As agreed with EU partners earlier this year, my officials—and those of other EU member states—are reviewing aspects of the insurance measures to ensure that, while maximizing the pressure on Iran, they do not have any undesirable side effects. EU Foreign Ministers will next discuss Iran on 25 June at the Foreign Affairs Council.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 11 June 2012

Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the meetings between the UN Security Council Permanent Members, Germany and chief negotiators from Iran in Baghdad.

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)
Talks between the E3+3/P5+1 (UK, France, Germany, US, China, Russia) and Iran were held in Baghdad on 23-24 May. We were right to be cautious about the progress that would be made. Each side presented proposals but there was little compromise in discussion and talks ended with a considerable gap still to bridge. Iran did not reject discussion of enrichment to 20%, but in their five-point plan sought to couple it with other issues including non-nuclear ones.

The E3+3 presented a united front throughout the talks. There was agreement to another round of talks in Moscow 17-19 June and we will work closely with the P5+1 to prepare for these. We are clear on the urgency of resolving this issue and we will not accept an open-ended process.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 19 April 2012

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 April. I will attend the General Affairs Council on 24 April, Both meetings will be held in Luxembourg.

Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, will chair the Foreign Affairs Council. […]

Iran

Baroness Ashton will brief Ministers following E3+3 (UK, France, Germany, US, China and Russia) talks with Iran in Istanbul on 14 April. We will underline that we welcome this new round of engagement and that Iran must urgently take concrete and practical steps to restore international confidence in the nature of their nuclear programme

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 17 April 2012

Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with his EU counterparts on Iran; and if he will make a statement

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
I am in regular contact with my European colleagues on Iran. Most recently my officials met with Iran alongside France, Germany, the United States, China and Russia in Istanbul on 14 April to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 16 April 2012

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of how the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy assists implementation of the National Counter Proliferation Strategy 2012-15; 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 National Counter Proliferation Strategy 2012-15 is clear that the UK will work in support of the rules based international system of counter proliferation treaties, regimes and organisations that underpin global security and prosperity—as well as working bilaterally and through ad hoc groupings.

The key international agreement for countering nuclear proliferation is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which entered into force in 1970. For its 190 states parties the Treaty aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, ultimately eliminate them and enshrines the right to access and develop nuclear energy in a safe and secure environment.

Her Majesty’s Government actively supports all three Treaty Pillars (non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy) and is clear that the National Counter Proliferation Strategy 2012-15 is complemented by the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Such promotional activities are currently taking place largely under the umbrella of the International Engagement Strategy on Civil Nuclear (agreed by Government in 2011). These include:

Engagement with priority countries where commercial and political levers can help achieve progress on the National Counter Proliferation Strategy;

Providing a single point of contact on civil nuclear across HMG—the Cross Whitehall Advisory Group—and creating a closer relationship with Industry and academia. This Group feeds into existing structures, in particular the Counter Proliferation Implementation Committee that itself is guided by the National Counter Proliferation Strategy;

Increasing UK engagement with multinational organisations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency, International Framework For Nuclear Energy Co-operation and the World Nuclear University, and wider political fora, such as the EU and G8/G20. Strengthening these organisations and our relationships with them will help ensure that the development of peaceful uses globally—not just nuclear power—helps us to meet the objectives of the National Counter Proliferation Strategy.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: International Cooperation – 23 March 2012

Paul Flynn (Newport West, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to bring forward initiatives at the Global Nuclear Security summit in Seoul on 26 and 27 March 2012.

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 Deputy Prime Minister will lead the UK delegation to the Nuclear Security summit in Seoul on 26-27 March. The summit will assemble 53 countries, and the UN, the EU, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Interpol, to assess progress on and reinvigorate commitment to ensuring that nuclear materials, technology and information are kept out of the hands of terrorists.

The Deputy Prime Minister will be able to report significant achievements against our national commitments from the first summit in Washington in 2010, including helping to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union (not least, 775 bombs’ worth of material in Kazakhstan); hosting a successful IAEA security advisory mission to our civil nuclear sites in Sellafield and Barrow; and leading efforts to secure last year’s renewal of the G8-based Global Partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also be able to make new commitments for the two years up to the next summit in 2014, including further close partnership with the IAEA, the US, the EU and others on risk reduction programmes overseas; further development of plans for the future management of our inventory of separated civil plutonium; and implementation of the new UK/France framework for cooperation on civil nuclear security and emergency response.

Our key contribution, and the summit’s most innovative element, will be our groundbreaking work on the security of nuclear information. Over the past year we have built consensus on the need for greater focus on protecting not just nuclear material but also the information that a terrorist would need to obtain the material, build it in to an improvised explosive device, and mount an attack. Such information ranges from maps of nuclear installations, to how to construct a bomb, to how to beat border security and emergency response plans. I expect our work to be reflected in a dedicated paragraph in the summit communiqué, and an additional UK-led statement, in which at least 20 countries have agreed to join us, committing to specific national actions to improve the practice of information security.

Ministerial Statement — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council – 22 March 2012

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 23 March. I will attend the General Affairs Council (GAC) on 26 March. […]

Iran

Although Iran is not yet a formal agenda item, we expect Ashton to update Ministers on the E3 (UK, France and Germany) +3 (US, China and Russia) response to the latest Iranian letter on nuclear negotiations.

Ministers may also discuss the disturbing human rights situation in Iran following the 8 March report of the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran to the Human Rights Council. EU member states are expected to review and agree to new designations of human rights violators in Iran. […]

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 19 March 2012

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the recent Iranian elections on the prospects for a resolution to the Iranian nuclear situation.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
As I said in a statement on 2 March, the day of the Iranian parliamentary elections, it was clear some time before polling day that the elections would not be free and fair. This was an exercise dominated by regime hard liners to prevent any radical change of direction in Iranian politics. Nevertheless, the agreement of the members of the E3 plus 3—comprising the UK, US, Russia, China, France and Germany—to offer a new round of talks with Iran on the nuclear issue represents an opportunity for Iran to engage seriously with the international community. I call on the Iranian Government to seize this opportunity.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 8 March 2012

Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the recent visit by International Atomic Energy Agency officials to 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 latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report details the outcome of its recent visits to Iran. I am disappointed at the refusal of Iran to co-operate with the agency during these visits. The international community, as expressed by the IAEA Board of Governors Resolution in November 2011, has real concerns about the possible military dimensions to Iran’s programme, and Iran is doing nothing to allay these concerns.

Despite this, we remain ready to work with Iran towards a diplomatic solution. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the

Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), confirmed on 6 March that the UK, US, France, Germany, Russia and China, having carefully considered Iran’s latest response to Baroness Ashton, agree that the international community should demonstrate its commitment to a diplomatic solution by acknowledging Iran’s agreement to meet, by testing Iran’s desire to talk and by offering it the opportunity to respond to legitimate concerns about its nuclear intentions. Baroness Ashton has therefore replied to Iran offering to resume talks on the nuclear issue.

Ministerial Statement — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: UK/France Summit – 20 February 2012

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
I would like to update the House on the UK/France summit on 17 February in Paris.

Last Friday’s summit followed that of November 2010 which resulted in the signature of two historic defence treaties at Lancaster house.

The Summit

The summit was hosted by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace. President Sarkozy was accompanied by Prime Minister Fillon and his Foreign, Defence and Energy Ministers.

The British delegation was headed by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and me.

France and the UK are co-operating more closely on foreign and security policy issues than at any time since the second world war. Discussions covered foreign policy, defence, security and energy issues, highlighting our shared challenges and priorities. Within this context, we discussed the importance of stabilising the eurozone and restoring growth to the European economy. There were also frank exchanges in areas where we disagree, including the proposal for a financial transaction tax.

At the conclusion of the talks, the President and Prime Minister issued joint declarations covering defence and security, energy and Syria. These can be found at: http://www.number10.gov.uk.

Energy

A centrepiece of the summit was our landmark agreement to strengthen co-operation between France and the UK on civil nuclear energy. The joint declaration signalled our shared commitment to the future of civil nuclear power, setting out a joint long-term vision of safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy, that supports growth and helps to deliver our emission reductions targets. The declaration reiterated our commitment to the role of nuclear energy as part of a diversified energy mix, agreeing to work together with the International Atomic Energy Agency to strengthen international capability to react to nuclear emergencies and establish a joint framework for co-operation and exchanging good practice on civil nuclear security. British and French public and private sector bodies in the civil nuclear power industry will also work more closely on education and training; research and development; and security. This strengthened co-operation will be supported by a new Franco-British high-level group on nuclear energy, bringing together industry, Government, and other key stakeholders.

This partnership agreement was underpinned by a number of commercial deals in the field of nuclear energy, worth more than £500 million and creating more than 1,500 jobs across the country. These agreements represent a significant strengthening of the relationship between France and the UK in the field of civil nuclear development and signal the emergence of a competitive supply chain capable of servicing global opportunities. They also constitute the first concrete orders which make the UK new nuclear programme a reality, thus meeting critical objectives for securing our energy supplies and meeting our carbon reduction targets.

Defence and Security

The summit reinforced both sides’ commitment to the increased co-operation initiated in the 2010 Lancaster house treaties. We are similar-sized powers, with similar-sized armed forces and similar ambitions. The strength of our relationship and our determination to improve it were demonstrated throughout our leadership of the campaign to protect citizens in Libya. As part of our work to establish a new joint rapidly deployable force, we will design and develop a deployable headquarters comprising permanent and experienced staff drawn from existing French and UK high readiness command structures; this will be enhanced by an increase in the number of exchange officers on both sides. Beyond this, we agreed to work together to move to the next stage of developing a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles. We also discussed a wide range of actual and potential co-operation on equipment procurement and support to enable both improved capability and interoperability while delivering efficiency savings.

We also confirmed our joint approach to a range of current foreign policy challenges, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear programme, Somalia ahead of the London conference, Afghanistan and Burma.

Syria

Our discussions on Syria focused on the continued and appalling violence and concluded with a declaration that set out the joint measures that our two countries will take in support of the Syrian people and their aspirations for a better future. These included calling on the UN and other humanitarian agencies to carry out an urgent assessment of humanitarian needs, an increase in humanitarian aid, support for increased pressure on Assad, including an asset freeze on the Central Bank of Syria, and support for a subsequent transition process in Syria.

Conclusions

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has stated, the summit showed the strength and depth of the UK’s ties with France.

One year on from the Libya uprising, we are working together to stand up to the murderous Syrian regime and to stop a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran. At the United Nations, we co-sponsor more than three quarters of Security Council resolutions. Our commercial relationship is deep and growing with exports increasing and French investment sustaining almost 10,000 jobs in the UK. Our armed forces are working together at the cutting edge of military technology. The UK and France are committed to working together, for the security and the prosperity of both our nations.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Middle East: Oil – 9 February 2012

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the potential economic effects of a full-scale oil embargo on Iran.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
The aim of the EU oil embargo on Iran, agreed at the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 January, is to put pressure on Iran to negotiate seriously with the international community over its nuclear programme. The embargo will come into effect on 1 July. It is already causing consumers of Iranian oil to turn to other producers for supplies. The economic effects of a full-scale embargo are difficult to predict. Much would depend on the availability of alternative sources of oil supply. But the direct effect would be a loss to Iran of its oil revenues.

The aim of the measure, as with all sanctions, is to increase peaceful pressure on Iran to encourage them to return to the table on the nuclear issue.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Politics and Government – 8 February 2012

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the (a) Iranian economy and (b) effect of the international sanctions regime on that economy.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
The Iranian economy is already weakened by government mismanagement. As a result of this, Iran has experienced high inflation and unemployment for some time.

The aim of sanctions is to encourage Iran to negotiate seriously and meaningfully on the nuclear issue. The sanctions are intended to bring pressure to bear on the regime as well as to target the nuclear programme. We judge that their impact is increasing. The Iranian Government can act to bring sanctions to an end.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation – 8 February 2012

Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential consequences of recent changes to the regime in North Korea on efforts to stem nuclear proliferation in the region.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
There is no evidence to suggest that North Korea’s nuclear proliferation activities have ceased as a result of changes to the regime in North Korea. We will continue to work with our international partners, including in the UN and the EU, to counter the risk posed by nuclear proliferation in the region. The UK will also continue to urge North Korea to return to the 6 Party Talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran: Sanctions – 7 February 2012

Dan Byles (North Warwickshire, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the time period within which Iran could develop a nuclear capability under present circumstances.

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)
Iran already has certain capabilities in the nuclear field, most notably the capability to enrich uranium. As the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) most recent report on the Iranian nuclear programme makes clear, Iran has conducted activities relevant, and in some cases specific, to the development of nuclear weapons. Iran continues to expand its stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium. Its continuing production of this material—in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions—brings it closer to the day when it will have sufficient stocks to further enrich this material to weapons-grade and produce a nuclear device, should it so choose. This causes us grave concern about the ultimate purpose of the Iranian nuclear programme.

The example of the Qom uranium enrichment facility, which Iran initially kept secret from the IAEA, also raises our concerns that there may also be other, undeclared sites in Iran that could be engaged in work designed to shorten this timeline further. This is why it is important for Iran to allow the IAEA the access it requires to address the international community’s concerns on these and other issues, as the UN Security Council has instructed it to do.

Ministerial Statement — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Foreign Affairs Council – 30 January 2012

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)
The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) was held on 23 January in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I attended.

The FAC was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. A provisional report of the meeting and all conclusions adopted can be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/127480.pdf

The agenda items covered were as follows:

Iran

Ministers agreed an extensive package of sanctions and accompanying conclusions (see link above) focusing on Iran’s nuclear programme. The measures adopted include a phased embargo on Iranian oil; freezing the Central Bank of Iran’s assets; and sanctions on the petrochemical sector, gold and precious metal and dual-use goods.

Following the meeting, the Foreign Secretary said:

“Today’s action demonstrates the EU’s growing concern about Iran’s nuclear programme, and our determination to increase peaceful, legitimate pressure on Iran to return to negotiations.

It is action made necessary by Iran’s defiance of six UN Security Council resolutions and its refusal to enter negotiations over its nuclear programme. Iran’s recent decision to commence 20% enrichment at its underground site at Qom shows that it continues to choose a path of provocation. This is an enrichment programme that has no plausible civilian use, in a site that the Iranian authorities hoped to keep secret.

We call again on Iran to answer the serious questions raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to adhere to UN Security Council Resolutions and to suspend its enrichment programme in accordance with them. Iran has it in its power to end sanctions by changing course and addressing the concerns of the international community. We are ready to talk at any point if Iran puts aside its preconditions. Today’s sanctions show how serious EU member states are about preventing nuclear proliferation and pressing Iran to return to the negotiating table. We will urge other nations across the world to implement similar measures and to increase the impact of the measures the EU has adopted”.

The Prime Minister made a statement on the Iranian sanctions with President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel on 23 January—see link below

http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/iran-sanctions/

[…]

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Iran – 25 January 2012

Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of reports that Iran may close the Strait of Hormuz; 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)
As the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend Mr Hammond, said on 5 January:

“It is in the interests of all nations that the arteries of global trade are kept free, opening and running. Disruption to the flow of oil through Strait of Hormuz would threaten regional and global economic growth. Any attempt by Iran to do this would be illegal and unsuccessful.”

Given that 95% of Iran’s oil exports transit the Strait of Hormuz, it is against Iran’s own interests to seek to close the Strait.

Iran’s threats will not distract our attention from the real issue, which is the nature of its nuclear programme. We call on Iran to respond constructively to the international community’s concerns and engage seriously with the UK, United States of America, France, Germany, Russia and China—the so-called E3+3.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: Foreign Affairs Council (23 January) and General Affairs Council (27 January) – 18 January 2012

David Lidington (Minister of State (Europe and NATO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Aylesbury, Conservative)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 January. I will also attend the General Affairs Council on 27 January.

Foreign affairs council

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, will chair the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 January.

Iran

As agreed at the December 2011 FAC, Ministers should be presented with a package to expand and strengthen EU sanctions against Iran, including an oil embargo and further restrictions on finance, petrochemicals and gold. If agreed, these measures will reflect the degree of EU concern about the continued development of the Iran’s nuclear programme. These robust measures aim to reduce Iran’s ability to fund its nuclear programme and to encourage it to resume serious and meaningful negotiations.

Syria

In response to the continuing repression, we are pushing to agree strong conclusions on Syria and a further round of EU sanctions. The UK has proposed an additional list of 21 military and security officials we believe are responsible for the violence against civilians. We are also working with partners to agree further sanctions at the February FAC. […]

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Topical Questions – 17 January 2012

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham, Liberal Democrat)
As we discovered during events surrounding the invasion of Iraq, it is essential for states to act only on hard evidence. In relation to Iran, will the Secretary of State encourage not only Iran itself but the whole international community to listen carefully to the International Atomic Energy Agency this time?

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
Yes, it is very important to listen carefully to what is said by the International Atomic Energy Authority. As my hon. Friend will know, it was a report from the IAEA which, in November, referred to the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme and the concern that was felt about it. That has fortified our determination—the determination of countries throughout the European Union—to adopt the measures that we will be discussing next week although, as my hon. Friend has said, they must always be based on hard evidence.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran – 17 January 2012

Ian Austin (Dudley North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the Iranian nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement.

William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)
I am gravely concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. Iran continues to flout six UN Security Council resolutions requiring it to suspend uranium enrichment. It recently began operations at its uranium enrichment plant near Qom and has conducted significant military-related nuclear activities. Pressure will only increase until Iran is ready to respect its international obligations and negotiate.

Written Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Iran: Sanctions – 17 January 2012

Michael Ellis (Northampton North, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had on the effectiveness of the international community’s Iranian sanctions programme.

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)
I have had a wide range of discussions with the UK’s international partners about the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran. The E3+3 group—made up of the UK, US, France, Germany, Russia and China—supports a policy of pressure on and engagement with Iran. The EU has supported a range of strong sanctions against Iran, designed to bring it back to the negotiating table on the nuclear issue and—separately—to highlight our concerns about Iranian human rights abuses. We and our partners believe that sanctions on the nuclear issue can slow the development of the Iranian programme, as well as pressing Iran to negotiate seriously with the international community.