UK Conservatives, Labour urge Johnson gov’t to step up against Iran

They also criticized the UK government for not supporting the US attempt to reinstate the arms embargo and causing a rift with the US.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (photo credit: REUTERS)
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Britain must clarify its position on Iran as the United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Tehran expires on Sunday, pro-Israel legislators from both the Conservative and Labour Parties at Westminster have said.
A letter from Conservative Friends of Israel to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, signed by more than 80 lawmakers last week, said: “the end of the UN embargo will have far-reaching consequences for regional stability. It will embolden an already belligerent Iran and facilitate an influx of arms to Iranian proxies. This represents a direct threat to our allies and UK interests worldwide.”
They also criticized the UK government for not supporting the US's attempt to reinstate the arms embargo, thus causing a rift with Washington on the matter.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in August that the US was activating “snapback sanctions” that, in light of Tehran’s violations of the agreement, allow a unilateral reversing of the “sunset clauses” that were originally intended to ease limitations, such as the arms embargo.
The other parties to the deal, including the UK, said the US did not have the right to invoke the “snapback” clause because it had left the Iran Deal in 2018, but the US has argued that the mechanism for reinstating sanctions is detailed in a UN Security Council resolution that specifically says the Washington may do so.
The Conservative Friends of Israel group said “there is an urgent need for our Government to unambiguously articulate the UK’s policy towards Iran and its encouragement of violence in and beyond the Middle East” and it listed questions the government must answer.
For example, they asked if there are mechanisms in place to monitor escalating arm sales to Iran if and when the arms embargo is lifted, and if the UK is taking measures to ensure existing UN resolutions on Iran are implemented more rigorously.
They also called on the UK government to outlaw Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, calling it “the principal conduit for its support of international terrorism.”
Labour Friends of Israel chairman, Steve McCabe MP, asked UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to “outline what steps the UK will take to strengthen sanctions against Iran.”
Unlike his Conservative counterparts, McCabe criticized the Trump administration for withdrawing from the agreement, saying it “has clearly done nothing to tackle the enormous threat which the Islamic Republic poses to peace and stability in the Middle East.”
McCabe said it was “hugely disappointing” that the US was not able to enlist other parties to the Iran Deal to extend the arms embargo.
Easing the embargo was intended to encourage Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is known, but Iran has repeatedly contravened the agreement, McCabe wrote.
He pointed to Tehran’s stockpiling of enriched uranium, its violating restrictions on the number of advanced centrifuges and prohibition on uranium activities in Fordow, and the developed its own ballistic missiles and missile defense capabilities.
“It is simply incomprehensible that Iran should be rewarded for such behavior with the ending of an arms embargo which sought to prohibit it acquiring advanced weaponry,” McCabe wrote.