Iran is a rogue state. Make no mistake about it. We have known that for quite some time and yet our leaders have consistently failed to adopt appropriate measures against the theocratic Iranian regime.
It is this indecision and these missteps in foreign policy that have emboldened Iran – which does not follow international norms – to act in the way that it does. Earlier this month, a court in Antwerp, Belgium, convicted Assadollah Assadi, a Vienna-based accredited Iranian diplomat, on charges of personally organising a delivery of explosives to a couple who intended to attack a rally in Paris of the main Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in the summer of 2018.
Assadi has now been sentenced to 20 years in prison for masterminding the attempted massacre.
However, it is not just Assadi who has, in effect, been found guilty. The court concluded that the attempted bombing of the rally was approved at the highest level of the Iranian government. In essence, the whole of the Tehran regime is guilty of this attempted atrocity. Scores of thousands of people attended the rally, and the casualties would have been appalling had the bombers succeeded.
While the principal target was the NCRI President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, hundreds of prominent politicians from both sides of the Atlantic were also in attendance, including several of my colleagues in the House of Commons. Had the regime and their agents been successful, they might not be alive today.
The verdict shows that the Iranian regime, from top to bottom, is engaged in exporting terrorism of a peculiarly savage kind.
This is in addition to the established knowledge that Iran is one of the world’s largest state funders of terrorism, with groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas on its payroll.
During the trial it was demonstrated that the plot was actively developed by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), headed by Mahmoud Alavi, and the Foreign Ministry, headed by Javad Zarif.
It is self-evidently a gross breach of international norms for diplomats to use their privileged status to deliver explosives to would-be terrorists.
The case is a glaring example of Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism over recent years.
Not only does the regime fund groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, it also includes within its structures the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and the MOIS, which are essentially terrorist organisations. The UK should designate and proscribe them as such.
The Antwerp court’s verdict must also prompt urgent changes in British policy towards Tehran.
We must seriously reconsider our diplomatic relations with Iran. The privileged status afforded to diplomats was egregiously abused by the regime: the attack on the NCRI rally was plotted by a diplomat serving in the Iranian embassy in Vienna.
It would be wholly understandable if Belgium, France and other nations most closely affected by the terror plot were to decide to close Iran’s embassies in their capitals.
Similarly, I would hope and expect that the UK will now be seriously reviewing the status of the Iranian embassy in London. This gross violation of all the norms of civilised relations between states must not be tolerated.
We should predicate our continuing diplomatic relations with Tehran on the regime’s acceptance that it must swiftly and comprehensively dismantle its terror network and apparatus.
And, importantly, the UK must reassess its position towards the JCPOA.
How can we possibly support the continuation of an agreement with a regime capable of devising and executing such an atrocity? The ‘nuclear deal’ must be reconsidered and re-evaluated; not least because, in its present form, it is realistically incapable of blocking Tehran’s path to the bomb.
Finally, the United Kingdom must work closely with our principal allies, most particularly the Biden administration, to develop a new, uniform and robust approach to the Iranian regime, whose malevolent ambitions and methods have been laid bare by the Antwerp judgment.
Source » express