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UK can bridge gap with US on Iran

The UK can play a pivotal role as a bridge between Europe and the US on Iran, according to a new BICOM report called ‘Britain’s Iran Dilemma’.

The report assesses UK-Iran relations in historical context and concludes that the UK should remain in the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) but can address flaws in the agreement through close cooperation with the US, especially with regards to key nuclear and arms limitation provisions that expire in a few years’ time.

The briefing examines the dilemma that Iran poses for the UK in light of splits over the nuclear deal and outlines how best to respond to Iran’s regional behaviour. The paper makes clear that Iran’s support for armed non-state actors in the region has increased since 2015 – when the nuclear deal was signed – and Iranian actions since then suggest it still wants to build up its nuclear weapons capability. The paper recommends that the UK consider new sanctions to deal with Iran’s destabilising regional activities and advanced ballistic missile programme.

The paper also recommends that the UK must ensure strict enforcement of all the JCPOA’s terms, including inspections of undeclared sites and newly revealed sites, and restrictions on enriched uranium and heavy water. The UK should also address Iran’s malign regional activity as well as working with France and Germany to bring forward EU-wide sanctions against Iran’s missile programme and calling on European partners to follow the UK’s full proscription of Hezbollah.

BICOM CEO James Sorene said: “Far from being stuck in the middle between Europe and the US, Britain can play an important role bridging the transatlantic gap on Iran policy and finding a path towards dialogue between the US and Iran. The UK is committed to preventing Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, tackling Iran’s dangerous regional activity via proxies and limiting Iran’s ballistic missile programme. But to achieve these long term goals it must look beyond the current crisis and, together with its allies, urgently construct a new framework to deal with the situation when UN arms limitation resolutions and key provisions in the nuclear deal start to expire.”

The paper can be read here.