Wednesday, 9 June 2010


I'm very keen to see the response from the Deputy Prime Minister to the reprehensible decision by the UN Security Council today to ratchet up sanctions against Iran because it has scurrilously and shamelessly continued to negotiate over its plans to enrich uranium with no evidence whatsoever of any hostile intentions so far.

This is same Iran which recently offered a region wide deal to oversee checks on nuclear technology - an offer which caused some unease in other capitals nearby as other countries not too far away to the west have singularly failed to engage with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

This is the same Iran which is at the negotiating table - or at least it was until today - and which has not launched any aggressive actions against its neighbours for quite some decades now (Iraq started the first Gulf War in 1980).

This is the same Iran which had offered to send its uranium to Turkey to be enriched, thus addressing one of the main issues of the latest round of sabre-rattling by the USA and Israel.

There are uncomfortable echoes of 2003 in all this for, lest we forget, the USA used the UN to try to win some legitimacy for its long planned invasion back then. I wonder what the UN's Middle East envoy and the man who shamed our country, T. Blair esq. will say about all this. What can a man seen across the Middle East as one of the main architects of the devastation of Iraq possibly do to encourage peace and dialogue when he is hated by almost everyone there?

If the British government joins in any military action against Iran I'll be a willing participant in any protests and if the Liberal Democrats do not come out foursquare against any such actions we might just find ourselves without a party. I don't envy Nick Clegg his dilemma over such issues but I do expect him to hold fast to the fundamental principles which drive our party, one of which is internationalism.

For the record, I have no illusions about Iran. It is a poor democracy which has quite abysmal human rights and its president is clearly deranged but it is not a threat to the region. It has an educated population and recent years have demonstrated the vibrancy of its brave opposition. The people of Iran are not our enemy and they don't have to be in future.

The era of gunboat diplomacy is past, or at least it should be.

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