Hague says Iran deal 'enhances Middle East security'

William Hague

William Hague

Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the Iran nuclear deal in a speech to Parliament today.

He described the six month deal - to curb Iran's nuclear programme and lift some sanctions - as a “significant step towards enhancing the security of the Middle East and preventing nuclear proliferation worldwide.

“Iran has made a number of very significant commitments. Over the next six months Iran will cease enriching uranium above 5 per cent, the level beyond which it becomes much easier to produce weapons grade uranium. Furthermore it has undertaken to eradicate its stockpile of the most concerning form of uranium enriched above 5 per cent.

“If Iran implements the deal in good faith as it has undertaken to do, it cannot use these routes to move closer towards obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.”

In return, the international community has provided $7 billion of sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic, Mr Hague confirmed.

He said the agreement – which has been publically condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – was “a difficult and painstaking process, and there is a huge amount of work to be done to implement it.

“But the fact that we have achieved for the first time in nearly a decade an agreement that halts and rolls back Iran’s nuclear programme, should give us heart that this work can be done and that a comprehensive agreement can be attained.

“We are right to test to the full Iran’s readiness to act in good faith, to work with the rest of the international community and to enter into international agreements.

“If they do not abide by their commitments they will bear a heavy responsibility, but if we did not take the opportunity to attempt such an agreement then we ourselves would be guilty of a grave error.”

But Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub - who spoke at the Conservative Friends of Israel fundraising lunch today, attended by Mr Hague - said: "Given the other choices of Iran with a bomb or bombing Iran, the best response to the threat is clearly a robust and effective agreement. But we have serious concerns about an arrangement - even an interim one - that doesn't require Iran to dismantle a single centrifuge, or a single part of the military aspect of its programme, or any part of its heavy water plutonium reactor , and that leaves current stocks – more than seven tones - of five per cent enriched uranium intact."

Last updated: 5:50pm, November 25 2013