Iran minutes from developing nuclear capability, government is warned

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Iran minutes from developing nuclear capability, government is warned

Concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme have risen after its drone and missile attacks on Israel at the weekend, which were intercepted by the UK and allies

Cooling towers of nuclear power plant in Arak, Iran.
Cooling towers of nuclear power plant in Arak, Iran.

Iran is “within minutes” of developing a nuclear capability and “mad enough to use it”, the government has been warned.

Concerns around Iran’s nuclear programme have spiked after its drone and missile attacks on Israel over the weekend, which were intercepted by the UK and allies.

Peers in Westminster have tackled the Government on taking its eye off Iran since the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018.

The deal, originally negotiated by Barack Obama and signed by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facilities in return for dropping sanctions against the country.

During a debate in the House of Lords about Iran’s attack on Israel, independent crossbench peer Baroness Deech said: “We seem to have forgotten about the nuclear plan, the JCPOA, we’ve taken our eye off that.

“Iran is within minutes of getting nuclear capability and mad enough to use it.

“We must return to sanctions and, if you are not going to ban the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), then at the very least, visas should not be granted to those clerics, so-called, that go forward and backwards between Tehran and London and ferment trouble in London.”

Lady Deech, a bioethicist with a Jewish background, urged the Government to do something to tackle the “flow of malevolent individuals into this country”.

Former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Forsyth added that, if he were in Israel, he would “be worried that this evil regime (Iran) is developing a nuclear capability”.

He said: “No-one in Israel can sleep in their bed safe at night knowing that this regime might have the capability of developing nuclear weapons.”

The Leader of the House of Lords, Lord True, acknowledged that the objective observers in Iran suggest that they may be building a nuclear capability.

He said there is “no credible civilian justification” for the enrichment levels reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Lord Privy Seal told peers: “The British Government remains determined that Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon.

“We are considering next steps with our international partners and we’re committed to using all diplomatic tools available to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon, including using the snapback mechanism (sanctions) if necessary.

“These matters have to be carried forward in cooperation with our international allies and that is our diplomatic objectives.”

He added: “Dealing with Iran is a matter for international agreement and the question of how to deal with them is something that’s been going on since the original discussions being taken by President Obama with the Iranian government.

“Attempts have been made under the current US administration to secure viable deals with relation to the Iranian nuclear programme in 2022, which would have returned Iran to its full compliance and would have returned the US to the deal – but Iran refused to seize that diplomatic opportunity in August 2022 to conclude such a deal.

“Though we remain committed to a diplomatic solution, I have to say that Iran’s actions over the past months have made the prospect of progress much more difficult.”

Meanwhile, Lord Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, highlighted a Jewish Chronicle investigation that claimed academics at a dozen UK universities were working alongside Iranian counterparts on drone research.

He said: “The Prime Minister on June 23, 2023 announced an inquiry into these allegations that scientists at British universities have been helping Iran develop technology that could be used to upgrade its suicide drone programme… That was 10 months ago.”

He urged the Government to give an update on the inquiry.

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