UK must stand up to Iran: MPs

UK must stand up to Iran: MPs
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) rally, which Assadollah Assadi planned to bomb, in Villepinte, north of Paris, June 30, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 February 2021

UK must stand up to Iran: MPs

UK must stand up to Iran: MPs
  • EU, Britain urged to use ‘maximum pressure’ against ‘pariah state’
  • Statement follows court ruling that found Iranian diplomat guilty of planning to bomb opposition rally in Paris

LONDON: A cross-party group of British MPs has written to the government urging it to have the “courage” to downgrade diplomatic relations with Tehran in response to the threat posed by Iran’s state terrorism.

The letter, issued by the British Committee for Iran Freedom (BCFIF), said the case of Assadollah Assadi — an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism for trying to bomb an opposition rally in Paris in 2018 — is evidence that Tehran uses its diplomatic missions abroad as a cover for terrorism.

“Iran’s decision to act as a pariah state and to use its diplomats to threaten the security of Europe and the life of its citizens must be met with maximum pressure and not maximum diplomacy by the EU and UK,” the MPs and Lord Alton of Liverpool said in the letter.

In a separate statement, Lord Alton said the Assadi ruling and investigation “show beyond any doubt that this was an act of state terrorism by the regime in Iran against the country’s organised pro-democracy opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), by targeting their conference, leader and supporters on European soil.”

Lord Alton denounced the invitation extended to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to speak at the virtual Europe-Iran Business Forum in March, and urged the UK to downgrade relations with Tehran and investigate its diplomatic mission in London for evidence of terrorist activity.

“A Global Britain must have the courage to take the lead in Europe to address the serious threats of Iran’s state terrorism,” the BCFIF said.

It added that until the UK has confronted the Iranian threat within the county, it should proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and sanction senior Iranian leaders such as Zarif and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Ali Safavi, an official with the NCRI’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Arab News that “the concern over the Iranian regime’s illicit and dangerous nuclear weapons program shouldn’t dwarf other aspects of its malign and sinister behavior,” including “its renewed intelligence gathering and terrorist schemes on European soil.” 

He said Tehran’s terrorism in Europe, its pursuit of nuclear weapons, its human rights abuses at home and its expansionism across the Middle East “are part and parcel of the same policy and, as such, must be dealt with in their entirety. A piecemeal approach to all these nefarious actions will be to no avail.”

He added: “It’s time for the EU to revise its policy vis-a-vis the ruling theocracy, and stand with the Iranian people and not with their oppressors.”

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