Iranian nuclear programme ‘never been more advanced’, Sunak tells MPs

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Iranian nuclear programme ‘never been more advanced’, Sunak tells MPs

The prime minister and Labour leader both praise the RAF for destroying a 'number of Iranian drones' during Saturday's massive attack by Tehran on Israel

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rishi Sunak speaking in the Commons after Iranian attack on Israel
Rishi Sunak speaking in the Commons after Iranian attack on Israel

Iran’s nuclear programme “has never been more advanced than it is today and threatens international peace and security” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned.

Speaking in the Commons, Sunak said Iran has shown its “true colours” by attacking Israel, adding:” They are intent on sowing chaos in their own backyard, on further destabilising the Middle East.”

In a statement to MPs the prime minister also praised the RAF for destroying a “number of Iranian drones” and said the UK provided “important intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for our partners”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer also joined him in saying “We support the defensive action taken by the UK over the weekend, alongside our international allies against the Iranian attacks on Israel, and we welcome the Prime Minister’s call for restraint.”

He said Israel had shown “strength and courage” in repelling the Iranian attack, but called for the Jewish state to show similar courage in now de-escalating the situation.

Sunak issued his warning about Iran’s nuclear programme in response to a question from Alicia Kearns, chair of the foreign affairs select committee.

She noted: “Restraint is vital if we want to build the momentum to get hostages home to their families, to get improvements to continue on aid.”

Kearns then continued:”“But to better protect our people will (Sunak) commit to launch a new consensus on Iran with our allies, and a new effort with a combined diplomatic, military and wider expert areas to limit the extent of the atrocities of Iran.

“We need to end the compartmentalisation of the threats when we deal with them, we need to deal with them as one. Whether it be nuclear ambitions, the arming of the militia, femicide, or transnational oppression but only with a new consensus will we see that progress so will he please commit to leading that internationally?”

Responding the PM said:”I can give (Kearns) that commitment, and that is exactly the subject of our discussions yesterday amongst G7 leaders.

“And she mentioned nuclear, Iran’s nuclear programme has never been more advanced than it is today and threatens international peace and security, and there is absolutely no justification, at a civilian level, for the enrichment that we are seeing, that the IAEA has reported in Iran and I want to reassure her that we are considering next steps on the nuclear file with our international partners and we are committed to using all diplomatic tools available to ensure that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon, including using the snap-back mechanism if necessary.”

The Labour leader also went on to praise the ” professionalism and bravery of our armed forces” amid reports that the RAF shot down around a dozen of the Iranian drones launched at Israel on Saturday.

“Once again we all salute the professionalism and bravery of our armed forces,” said Starmer. ” We also support the RAF planes being sent to the region to bolster Operation Shader. Their efforts are vital for a safer world.”

He added there was “no doubt” the attack “has left the world a more dangerous place” and said Iran “must be wholly condemned by all”.

Sunak later added nothing that had happened at the weekend “affects our position on Gaza.”

He added:”The appalling toll on civilians continues to grow, the hunger, the desperation, the loss of life on an awful scale, the whole country wants to see an end to the bloodshed and to see more humanitarian support going in.

“The recent increase in aid flows is positive but it is still not enough. We need to see new crossing open for longer, to get in vital supplies.”

Starmer also made reference to Israel’s preceding attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

He added: “If diplomacy takes centre stage, and it must, then we also need to be clear diplomatic premises should not be targeted and attacked. That is a point of principle.”

Elsewhere, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black was rebuked after she appeared to make an equivalence between Iranian action and that taking place in Gaza.

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace has urged the prime minister to tell Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu to do more to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Called to speak, Workers Party leader George Galloway also attempted to rebuke the PM for failing to condemn Israel’s attack in Damascus

The Rochdale MP said that Sky News presenter Kay Burley “is the only person so far to demand that of a government minister”.

The PM replied: “Whatever may have happened a few weeks ago, it is absolutely no justification for launching more than 300 drones and missiles from one sovereign state towards Israel, it is as simple as that”.

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