Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU's irresolute approach will inflame crisis on Iran

Financial Times - March 28th 2007

Sir

The recent arbitrary detention of UK servicemen followed by dissembling and prevarication by the Iranian regime demonstrates that President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad cannot be trusted on his word that Iran has no intention of developing a nuclear weapon. Instead he appears determined to have some bargaining chips to secure the release of Iranian forces aiding the insurgency, captured by the US. The unanimous sanctions imposed by UN Security Council resolution 1747, although a little stronger than the last ones in December, were a compromise that kept the Russians and Chinese on board but will not significantly damage the Iranian economy and stop them enriching uranium.

President Ahmadi-Nejad has already audaciously referred to the previous relevant UN Security Council resolutions 1696 and 1737 as "pieces of torn paper". What is now required by the European Union, unilaterally if necessary, is a ban on export credits to Iran. Forty per cent of Iran's imports come from the EU, which absorbs a quarter of all Iran's exports. Economic links are historically strong and growing. Some two-thirds of Iranian industry, most of it state-controlled, relies on German engineering exports, 65 per cent of which, astonishingly and shamefully, is provided with export credit insurance guarantees by the German government.

The European Investment Bank, which is supposed to endorse the EU's policies on human rights, is funding the construction of the Nabucco oil pipeline from Iran to Austria to the tune of $1bn, and if completed will make Iran an indispensable energy partner for the EU.Iran's contempt for the international community reflects the government's evident contempt for basic human rights and civilised norms as it publicly executes individuals for sexual misdemeanours, and imprisons women protesting peacefully. The EUs irresolute and contradictory approach to the serious threat posed by Iran will inevitably inflame an already perilous situation.

Charles Tannock MEP (Conservative)
European Parliament