Imran contributed to the Westminster Hall debate on Government policy on Iran.
Imran Ahmad Khan MP: Iran boasts a long and rich history that has played a crucial role in influencing culture, art, poetry, science and philosophy across the globe. Not only is Iran home to one of the oldest civilisations, which began with the creation of Elamite kingdoms in 3300 BC, but it is also home to the Cyrus cylinder, the first historically recognised universal charter of human rights, created in 534 BC, pre-dating the Magna Carta by well over a millennium.
Regrettably, the Minister will be aware that the Iran we know today is very different from the one we look back to and admire. Today’s Iran is one of the world’s biggest state sponsors of terrorism and home to one of the deadliest dictatorships in the world. Human rights abuses are rife. Hundreds of Iranian civilians have been killed by their own Government. Protesters have been brutally repressed and religious minorities such as the Bahá'í face persecution.
On the international stage, Iran’s stratagem threatens the regional balance of power, our interests in the region and our own national security. Tehran openly supports the terrorist group Hezbollah, providing it with financial aid, weapons, munitions and military training. One attack orchestrated by Hezbollah, fortunately followed by MI5, was against targets in our own capital, London. In 2017, Iran reportedly carried out a cyber-attack on the UK Parliament and against email accounts belonging to Cabinet Ministers and our Prime Minister.
Allowing Iran to continue these attacks affronts, insults and diminishes our position in the eyes of the world. Releasing the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was nothing short of a national embarrassment and undermined our image as a reliable ally that does not buckle under pressure. If we wish to better secure our national security and bolster our reputation in the eyes of our allies, a much stronger stance must be taken against Iran. Now is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our willingness to stand up to the tyrants of Tehran, whether for breaching the joint comprehensive plan of action, their flagrant disregard of fundamental human rights or their financing of terrorism.
The UN arms embargo on Iran expired in October, which now provides Iran with a chance freely to purchase deadly weaponry. We have an opportunity to campaign for the reinstatement of the embargo and even to unilaterally establish our own embargoes. Other measures must be considered, such as further trade sanctions for failure to adhere to the articles of the joint comprehensive plan of action. The use of Magnitsky-style sanctions against key targets in the Iranian regime that propagate human rights abuses would send a strong message to the opposition and to Iran’s Government.
In the post-Brexit era, the United Kingdom no longer has the obligation to side with Brussels in our policy on Iran—a policy that has too often been based on appeasement. We should work instead with our strongest friends and allies, notably the United States, to become a true champion of freedom and an opponent of those in Iran who effectively hold their own people hostage.