Tory MPs and peers urge government to extend UN arms embargo on Iran

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Tory MPs and peers urge government to extend UN arms embargo on Iran

Letter from politicians said refusal to extend the ban would 'embolden an already belligerent Iran and facilitate an influx of arms to its proxies including Hezbollah and Hamas'

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif‏
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif‏

Dozens of Conservative MPs and peers have called on the Government to break from its two key European partners to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran.

The embargo ending on 18 October will allow Russia and China to sell Iran advanced non-nuclear weaponry in order to defend itself from any possible attack by the United States, Israel or Gulf states, with whom its proxies are already at war.

Donald Trump’s White House administration withdrew from the multilateral nuclear accord with Iran negotiated by his predecessor, reapplied and redoubled sanctions, and sought to stop foreign companies from trading with the Islamic Republic.

Most recently the US tried to extend the UN arms embargo expiring this Sunday, arguing that it was still party to the nuclear accord, something Britain, along with France and Germany (the E3) disputed, pointing to the US having left.

The E3 has sought to keep the Iran deal alive, arguing that Tehran held up its side of the bargain by dismantling its infrastructure and allowing weapons inspectors in, but Tory parliamentarians this week urged Boris Johnson to follow the White House.

“It is regrettable that the UK did not feel able to support a US effort to extend the arms embargo at the UN in August,” they said. “This has not only caused a rift with the United States but now threatens regional peace as Iran strengthens its arms.”

E3 diplomats sought a compromise at the UN Security Council but said this week that “no consensus could be reached”, prompting an angry letter from supporters at the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), signed by 58 MPs and several peers.

“The end of the UN arms embargo will have far-reaching consequences for regional stability,” they said. “It will embolden an already belligerent Iran and facilitate an influx of arms to Iranian proxies: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

“They intend to jeopardise the historic regional movement towards peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours. This represents a direct threat to our allies and UK interests worldwide.”

The signatories did not explain how Hezbollah or Hamas presented a direct threat to British interests but urged the Government to take a series of measures, including the proscription of Iranian state military units as terrorist organisations.

On Friday, Labour Friends of Israel’s chair,  Steve McCabe wrote to foreign secretary Dominic Raab, to say it “is deeply troubling”, asking what Britain would do amid “this disturbing development.”

He said it is “simply incomprehensible that Iran should be rewarded” for developing new missiles, “with the ending of an arms embargo which sought to prohibit it acquiring advanced weaponry.”

“Given Iran’s constant threats against it – manifested, in part, by its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad – the expiration of the embargo is hugely concerning for the State of Israel. It can also only strengthen Iran’s other nefarious activities throughout the region, further destabilising Iraq and Lebanon, and adding to the bloodshed and tragic loss of life in Syria.”


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