Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Re-engaging with Iran

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 26th January, 2015

IranIran UKIt is 35 years since the Iranian Revolution and the US hostage crisis, yet the rhetoric between Tehran and the “Great Satan” America hardly seems to have varied during that time. Attempts to bring about a rapprochement faltered when it was discovered that Iran had been secretly enriching uranium, sending alarm bells ringing that it was intent on becoming a nuclear power. Such fears still linger in the minds of many US Congressmen, not to mention the Netanyahu government in Israel, which has made it clear that it would launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities if it felt its security was at stake. Israel, of course, is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and is widely believed to have an impressive arsenal of nuclear warheads. Iran, meanwhile, has been hit hard by sanctions, particularly from the US but also from the EU, and that was the background to an interesting seminar on Re-engagement with Iran put on by the Global Diplomatic Forum in London today. Among the speakers arguing for greater engagement were the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord (Norman) Lamont, who declared that Margaret Thatcher would never have tolerated the way US pressure stops some British banks from dealing with Iran, and Lord (David) Hannay, a former UK Ambassador to the UN and a Farsi speaker. Great emphasis was put on seeing Iran not as a stereotype but as a diverse and culturally rich nation with a politically very alert population. Jeremy Corbyn MP highlighted human rights issues in Iran but also argued for the Middle East to become a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Britain and Iran are currently considering the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations, though progress on that has been slow. It could well be, however, that progress on other issues, such as a workable deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, would progress more smoothly if the UK were once again present at ambassadorial level in Tehran.

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