FOREIGN AFFAIRS – IRAN & POLICY OF CONTAINMENT – 16 October 2017

Dr Julian Lewis: Will the Government dust off the files marked “Cold war containment” and try to get the message across to our American friends and allies that a policy of containment while repressive societies evolve is the best way to deal with countries like Iran?

[The Minister for the Middle East (Alistair Burt): Again, I thank my right hon. Friend, who has long experience of these matters. If there is a colleague in the House associated with the cold war, it might, indeed, be my right hon. Friend, for his considerable knowledge, and, if I may say so, the occasional activity associated with it, which are a subject of his memoirs. His point is right. The world went through an awful time in the cold war, as some of us will remember and others will not. The world teetered on the brink of nuclear disaster, and was only pulled back by sensible decisions and the bravery of people in very difficult circumstances. We feel we have moved forward by trying to get the agreements we need. We know where the threats are in other parts of the world where an agreement has not been possible: there is no JCPOA in the far east, and we worry about the consequences of that.

I repeat what I said earlier about the United Kingdom’s position: the fact that this hard-won deal dealt with an aspect of the relationship between Iran and the rest of the world in a manner that could be verified and enabled us to move on, notwithstanding the fact that there were other issues, was really important. If we are not to see a return to cold war, we should look for the opportunity to make that engagement, and be honest in our relationships with each other on things we cannot agree on, but always try to find a way through without isolation and cutting contacts, as that only requires a climb-down at some stage in the future to find a way to re-engage.]