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.”