Statement on Europe–Iran Forum

This week, from 15-16 October, London will host the 1st Europe-Iran Forum, a conference on ‘post-sanctions investment and trade’. The conference will bring together a range of businesses, academics and cultural figures to discuss opportunities to trade with Iran ‘should sanctions be lifted’.

The Board acknowledges initiatives to engage Iran in pursuit of a better way forward, but believes that the international community must show resolve in putting a decisive end to the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. In addition, nobody should lose sight of the fact that Iran is a substantial supporter of international terrorism and has a woeful record with regard to human rights, particularly of minority groups.

Businesses must see this conference in conditional terms: so much could be possible if Iran were to completely renounce a military nuclear programme, stop funding international terrorism and end its persecution of minorities.

The Board’s International Division Chair Alex Brummer said: “Relaxing sanctions too quickly could allow Iran to return to a path that would allow it to produce nuclear weapons – imperilling the safety of many countries in the Middle East and around the globe. The world must watch very carefully to ensure that there is no backsliding towards an Iranian military nuclear capability.

“Furthermore, it remains crucial that positive steps on the nuclear issue and increased communication around business and trade, do not distract from other pressing topics. Let us be clear: Iran continues to arm, fund and empower state and non-state actors, such as Syria and Hezbullah, to commit acts of violence against civilians. World powers should take decisive steps to prevent Iran’s financing of global terrorism and the brutal repression of the Syrian people.

“Finally, we note that there is evidence that the human rights situation in Iran itself remains significantly oppressive, with hundreds of executions carried out on Rouhani’s watch. Minorities continue to suffer, with Bahá’ís reporting increasing levels of persecution since Rouhani’s election, and Christian, LGBT and other minorities continuing to suffer repression.

“We continue to urge the government and businesses to respect sanctions until Iran and the P5+1 countries reach a comprehensive deal on Iran’s nuclear programme.

“Iran has a clear choice to make: It can be a pariah state, supporting terrorism and persecuting minorities, or it can take its rightful place as a proud and full member of the family of nations. We hope that Iran opts for the latter.”

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