A high level Jewish community delegation has raised the JC’s investigation into British scientists who have helped Iran to develop military technology in a meeting with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – who said the Government is looking into the matter and treating it “very seriously”.
The delegation, led by the Jewish Leadership Council’s chair Keith Black and its co-chief executive Claudia Mendoza, met Cleverly at the Foreign Office on Wednesday evening.
Also in attendance were Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board of Deputies and hersenior Vice President David Mendoza-Wolfson, and Jonny Newton, the Director of External Relations at the Community Security Trust.
Besides the UK- Iranian research projects revealed by the JC, they discussed the impact of international events on Britain’s Jewish community; the importance of Britain’s relationship with Israel; the Government’s determination to root out antisemitism; and the threat posed by Iran’s quest to acquire nuclear weapons and its sponsorship of terrorist proxies such as Hamas and Hizbollah.
A source who was at the meeting described it as “entirely positive, exactly what you’d hope for and expect”. Cleverly is said to have been “deeply aware” that international events such as Israel’s May 2021 conflict with terror groups in Gaza can trigger upsurges in antisemitic attacks in Britain.
However, it is understood that Cleverly made clear that recent demands by both Jewish organisations and dozens of MPs to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation are not likely to be met soon. Cleverly is said to have pointed out that the Government is already taking action against the IRGC – whose activities in Britain the JC has exposed repeatedly – in several ways, such as sanctions against key individuals.
We were pleased to meet Foreign Secretary @JamesCleverly together with @BoardofDeputies and @CST_UK. We discussed the importance of tackling antisemitism, international terrorism and our ongoing concern over Iran's activities. We thanked him for the government’s support. pic.twitter.com/ANUYhwsGbN— Jewish Leadership Council (@JLC_uk) June 14, 2023
The Foreign Office is said to believe there are advantages in keeping lines of communication with the Tehran regime open, and there are fears that proscribing the IRGC would lead to it closing the British embassy – which is seen by Britain’s US ally as providing an important window for the west in Iran. The US embassy in Iran has been closed since it was stormed and its staff taken hostage during the Islamic revolution in 1979.
As for the JC’s investigation into UK – Iranian research, Cleverly repeated what he said in the House of Commons on Tuesday – that he is “well aware” of this newspaper’s reports and their significance, and that he has asked the relevant Government departments to look into them.
After the meeting, Black told the JC: “In our meeting with the Foreign Secretary we stressed the need for UK foreign policy to be used to combat antisemitism around the world and to consider how events can directly threaten Jewish communities here in the UK.
"We’d like to thank the Foreign Secretary for taking the time to meet with us and show his continued support."