‘Iran cannot be appeased’: British MP urges harder line against Tehran

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised to introduce 'snapback' sanctions on Iran. (File/AP)
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Bob Blackman (pictured) is a UK Conservative Party Member of Parliament. (Twitter)
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Updated 19 September 2020

‘Iran cannot be appeased’: British MP urges harder line against Tehran

  • MP Bob Blackman says UK should opt out of Iran nuclear deal and implement sanctions that ‘bite.’
  • Failed 2018 bomb plot by Iranian diplomat also reveals the need for European countries to scrutinize Iranian envoys.

LONDON: The UK should take more assertive action against Iran by ditching the nuclear deal and following the US lead in introducing economic sanctions that “bite,” a British MP has said.

Bob Blackman, a UK Conservative Party MP, also told Arab News that Tehran’s diplomatic footprint across Europe should be reviewed for its role in facilitating the IRGC’s (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) “nefarious activities.”

Speaking ahead of his appearance on Friday at a summit hosted by Iranian resistance group the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), Blackman said the UK has “a clear approach of trying to appease Tehran — I think that’s a problem. I don’t think you can appease Iran. I think you have to stand up to them.” 

Blackman believes Britain should take a stand on the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The agreement, struck by eight international powers, including Iran, curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. 

According to Blackman, this was a major mistake.

“Iran did not stick to the terms of the deal, and it gave the regime a lifeline just as economic sanctions were starting to yield results.”  

Britain should “immediately” end its support for the deal, he argued. 

“At the moment, the UK continues to stand by the nuclear deal and tries to use its seat at the UN Security Council to keep that deal alive — in my view, that’s the wrong approach. 

"It’s quite clear that Iran is in breach of the deal, and we should depart from it as fast as possible,” he said. 

The MP said that given Iran’s breaches of the agreement and the regime’s human rights abuses, he supports US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s plan to "snap back" sanctions on Tehran on Sept. 20, and that the UK should follow suit. 

“I would reimpose sanctions — and make them bite,” Blackman said.

He also urged European states to scrutinize Iranian diplomats working in their countries. 

In 2018, an Iranian diplomat working out of the country’s Vienna consulate attempted to bomb the NCRI’s annual rally in Paris. The plot was foiled and the diplomat-turned-IRGC operative now faces trial, but Blackman argues that those events show that Iranian embassies across Europe could pose a real and imminent security threat.

“We have to review, in Europe, all of those Iranian diplomats,” Blackman said. “Are they really diplomats, or are they IRGC-sponsored terrorists who are using diplomatic cover for their nefarious activities?

“It may well be that we need to close those embassies down and cut them off,” he added.

Blackman said that as well as taking a more active role in opposing Iran, the UK should also be working with and helping legitimate, peaceful opposition groups, such as the NCRI.

“The UK should not only recognize the NCRI but should also be doing business with them,” he told Arab News.

“They are widely recognized as being the principal opposition, on a peaceful basis, to the regime of the mullahs. Everything about them is based on democracy and restoring a democratic government to Iran,” Blackman said.

“If their plan for the future of Iran was implemented, it would restore human rights and democracy to the country — the UK should assist them in this goal.”


World political and religious leaders denounce deadly terror attack in French church

Updated 40 min 4 sec ago

World political and religious leaders denounce deadly terror attack in French church

  • Attacker killed three at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice

JEDDAH: Political and religious leaders worldwide united in condemnation on Thursday after a man wielding a knife beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice.
The attacker, Brahim Aouissaoui, 21, a Tunisian migrant, was shot six times by police as he fled the Basilica of Notre-Dame, and taken to hospital for treatment.
President Emmanuel Macron said France had been attacked by an Islamist terrorist “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief. And I say it with lots of clarity again today, we will not give any ground.”
The attack took place as Muslims observed the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. A spokesman for the French Council for the Muslim Faith said: “As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday.”
Saudi Arabia condemned the attack. “We reiterate the Kingdom’s categorical rejection of such extremist acts that are inconsistent with all religions, human beliefs and common sense, and we affirm the importance of rejecting practices that generate hatred, violence and extremism,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation “affirmed its steadfast position rejecting the phenomenon of hyperbole, extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever the causes and motives, calling for avoiding practices that lead to hate and violence.”

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Arab and Muslim leaders drew a distinction between Islam and violent acts that claimed to defend it. At Al-Azhar in Cairo, the center of Sunni Muslim learning, Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb denounced the murders as a “hateful terror act.” He said: “There is nothing that justifies these heinous terror acts which are contrary to Islam’s teachings.”
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri voiced his “strongest condemnation and disapproval of the heinous criminal attack,” and urged Muslims “to reject this criminal act that has nothing to do with Islam or the prophet.”
There was condemnation from US President Donald Trump, UN chief Antonio Guterres, and European, Arab and Israeli leaders. “Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest ally in this fight,” Trump tweeted.
Thursday’s attack began at about 9 a.m. when Aouissaoui burst into the church in Avenue Jean Medecin, the French Riviera city’s main shopping street. He slit the throat of a church worker, beheaded an elderly woman, and badly wounded another woman.
The church official and the elderly woman died at the scene. The third victim escaped to a nearby cafe, where she died from her wounds.
Nice’s Mayor, Christian Estrosi, compared the attack to the beheading this month near Paris of teacher Samuel Paty, who had used cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class.
The cartoons caused widespread offense in the Muslim world when they were published five years ago in a Danish newspaper and a French satirical magazine. Their re-emergence has led to anti-French protests in several Muslim-majority countries.