William Hague, along with all the other EU foreign ministers, was wrong to impose economic sanctions on Iran yesterday.
It is, of course, true that the Iranian government is disingenuous to talk about wanting a nuclear capability only for energy. With massive oil reserves this really does not ring true. Will their next argument be that Iran wants nuclear energy so it can go green?
I hasten to add that I do not support the current government in Iran in any way shape or from, and particularly disapprove of the Iran’s treatment of women as second class citizens. I also apply my own personal boycott by not appearing on Press TV, a television service supported by the Iranian government.
The difference though is that this is my personal decision, not a government decision.
The EU and the West in general needs to talk to the Iranian government.
We also need to plan for the inevitability that Iran, together with other countries, will obtain nuclear technology. Surely the experience of oil sanctions on Iraq should teach us that this way forward will not work. The sanctions will be breached. They will be used by the Iranian government to justify their actions.
We also run the risk of increasing oil prices at a time when the British and European economies are in poor shape following the transgressions of various bankers.
The EU imposition of sanctions against Iran seems a desperate last push to stop the inevitable. Governments in the West need to plan for a multipolar world recognising the inevitability of nuclear weapons. This is not an easy position and one which I would find hard to accept, while at the same time understanding that it is what needs to be done.
I say all this from the perspective of someone who has campaigned against nuclear weapons all of my political life. I truly believe that Britain, and indeed the rest of the world, would be better off without destructive nuclear capability.
Having said that, I also believe governments have to be realistic about the extent and reach of nuclear proliferation across the globe and put forward sensible policies for damage limitation. It is inevitable that, as an increasing number of scientists gain nuclear knowledge, more countries will have the opportunity to develop nuclear capability.
As we know, several countries, not all of them stable democracies, actually do have nuclear weapons. Pakistan is a case in point. It is also highly probable that Israel has them. The situation regarding Israel obviously has to be taken into account in putting forward any policy on Iran .
The EU imposition of sanctions against Iran seems a desperate last push to stop the inevitable.
For all our sakes the EU needs accept the reality of the international situation rather than undertaking measures which could potentially alienate dangerous regimes across the world.