Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Iran and its nuclear programme

Delivered in Plenary - 1st February 2012

Mr President,

Iran’s nuclear military ambitions and its government’s constant refusal to engage with the IAEA and UN Security Council demands constitute a major threat to global security. They also pose a potential risk to peace in the Middle East, with an existential threat to the State of Israel in particular. They are also likely to lead to a regional arms race, with neighbouring Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia also wishing to acquire such nuclear weapons if Iran is allowed to possess one in breach of its NPT international legal obligations.

We must now all hope that measures agreed by the European Union, even with political support from countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, which are large importers of Iranian oil, will put economic pressure on the regime and make it much harder for the leadership to move money around the world and will force Tehran to come back to the negotiating table. It shows that when there is a clear and urgent need for action the EU does not always dither and dodge the issue. This is Europe speaking as one voice for once on the most serious global threat and I would encourage Iran to start listening.

Traditionally Iran should also showcase the legacy of its glorious Persian culture. Instead it is sadly one of the most brutal, theocratic dictatorships in the world, having suppressed all opposition to the last flawed presidential elections, and a country which carries out shocking public executions of homosexuals, those guilty of so-called sexual misdemeanours, including minors, as well as exporting terrorism via its proxies, such as Hezbollah, to neighbouring countries.

It also regularly interferes in neighbouring countries, from Bahrain to militarily propping up the Syrian Ba’athist dictatorship. All the more reason, therefore, why it must never become a nuclear power. Contrary to what some have said, no future or further options to prevent this should be excluded from the negotiations.