Iran Focus: London, Oct. 20 – Several members of Britain’s House of Commons strongly criticized Tony Blair’s government yesterday for its economic ties with Iran, at a time of growing concern over the clerical state’s human rights violations and nuclear program. Iran Focus

London, Oct. 20 – Several members of Britain’s House of Commons strongly criticized Tony Blair’s government yesterday for its economic ties with Iran, at a time of growing concern over the clerical state’s human rights violations and nuclear program.

The rebuke came during a Commons debate on European Union-Iran relations.

Former cabinet member Win Griffiths, Labour MP from Wales, called financial ties to Tehran unethical.

He said that the government’s approach of constructive engagement had hit a dead-end adding that “after eight years, there has been little, if any, progress”.

Mr. Griffiths also called for the removal of Iran’s main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.

“There is a very strong case for the European Union to remove the terrorist tag, because they have been accepted as protected persons, and have said that they will not engage in or support terrorism or violence; they have also given up their arms”, he said.

Touching on Iran’s human rights record Sir Sydney Chapman, from the opposition Conservative Party, said, “At least 120 people have been publicly executed since March. It is on record that about 120,000 members of the (PMOI) have been executed in the past 20 years. One has only to study the articles in Iran's penal code to see how far that country disrespects human rights.”

Dr. Rudi Vis, Labour MP for Golders Green, contended that the PMOI’s presence on the terror list was a bad decision on the part of the UK government adding “I repeat what I see as the main contribution of today's debate: the request to the USA, the EU and the UK to remove the PMOI from the list of international terrorists. That would be a major achievement towards peace in the world and something in which the UK, the EU and the USA should be most interested.”

When Conservative MP Sir Teddy Taylor urged Whitehall to continue its engagement policy towards Iran, another Conservative MP, Graham Brady, retorted, “We must, however, now recognize that that strategy of engagement has nearly run into the sand. Iran has reneged on its commitments to the international community and to the International Atomic Energy Agency by continuing to pursue nuclear technology that would enable it to become a nuclear power.”

Mr. Denis MacShane, the Foreign Office’s Minister for Europe concluded the debate by saying that “Iran is top of the agenda”.

“I share the view that there are too many people in prison in Iran for making political statements, and too many executions have taken place, including the awful one of the 16-year-old girl”, he added.

Touching on Iran’s so-called nuclear weapons program, the Minister stated: “In the past two years, the International Atomic Energy Agency has documented serious failures by Iran over 18 years to meet its safeguards obligations and be fully transparent with the agency. That has led to widespread concern about whether the ambitions of Iran's nuclear programme are, as the Iranian authorities claim, entirely peaceful. That is not simply a British, German, French or American concern: it is shared by the entire international community, as we have clearly seen from the actions of the IAEA board of governors, whose last six resolutions on Iran have all been adopted by consensus.”

On Thursday Mr. MacShane called on Iran to comply with the latest resolution passed by the IAEA Board of Governors, calling on Iran to fully and unconditionally suspend its nuclear enrichment activities.

“Confidence cannot be restored unless Iran agrees to suspend its fuel cycle activity, including all centrifuge work and uranium conversion", MacShane told a meeting in London.

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