By Maximilian Clarke

Members of the UK Parliament’s Backbench business Committee have debated means of addressing the growing Iranian nuclear threat, concluding that military intervention would be counterproductive and would only serve to unite the country’s population in support of their possible nuclear weaponisation programme.

“That this House believes that the use of force against Iran would be wholly counterproductive and would serve only to encourage any development of nuclear weapons; and calls upon the Government to rule out the use of force against Iran and reduce tensions by redoubling diplomatic efforts,” said Mr John Baron, conservative MP for Basildon.

Throughout the escalating Iran standoff, the Islamic Republic’s ruling elite have consistently asserted that their nuclear programme was about energy independence and not weaponisation. This has, Baron observes, yet to be disproved:

“The fact that there is no evidence of attempts to produce nuclear weapons or of a decision to do so was confirmed by Peter Jenkins, the UK’s former permanent representative to the IAEA. Robert Kelley, a former director of the agency, highlighted the fact that the report contained only three items that referred to developments after 2004–the year in which the American intelligence services concluded that Iran had ceased its nuclear programme. Indeed, the agency spends 96% of a 14-page annexe reprising what was already known. I therefore ask the Foreign Secretary to highlight for the House today the paragraphs in the report that provide evidence of a nuclear weapons programme. He has referred to this matter many times, but I can see no such evidence in the report. Is he willing to highlight those paragraphs for the benefit of the House now? I am willing to take an intervention from him.”

And further, Mr Baron observed that the image of Iran continually antagonising US foreign policy and being portrayed as a dangerous and unstable state are at best one sided. In recent history, Iran has on many occasions offered an olive branch”

“A second inconvenient truth relates to the usual depiction of Iran as intransigent and for ever chauvinistic in her foreign policy. Western Governments, I suggest, too easily forget that Iran is not totally at fault here. There have been opportunities to better relations between Iran and the west, but the west has spurned those opportunities.

"We forget, for example, that following 9/11, Iran–unlike many in the middle east street–expressed solidarity with the US. We forget also that attempts were made to develop contacts during the early stages of the Afghan war. What was Iran’s reward? It was to be labelled or declared part of the “axis of evil” by President Bush, which led directly to the removal of the reformist and moderate President Khatami. Despite that, there were further attempts at co-operation in the run-up to the Iraq war, but those efforts were similarly rebuffed.”

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