John Baron MP: Western relations with Iran at a pivotal point

September 30, 2013

MP says telephone conversation significant

On 27th September, following the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, telephoned the President of the United States, Barack Obama. This marked the first official contact between the American and Iranian Presidents since the 1979 revolution. During both his election campaign and his speech to the United Nations, President Rouhani has advocated better relations with the West, and has spoken of his desire for a timely diplomatic solution to resolve the nuclear dispute.

John has long spoken of the need for a ‘fresh start’ with Iran, with more focus on diplomacy as opposed to the ‘sabre-rattling’ of recent years. In February 2012, he sponsored a House of Commons debate calling for such an initiative, and warning against any possible military strikes against Iran over the nuclear issue, whether by British forces or otherwise. John lost the vote 285-6.

John said,

“For too long the West has failed to go the extra diplomatic mile with Iran. Relations have been defined by mutual hostility. It required a breakthrough – a big gesture – and President Rouhani’s ‘phone call makes for a pivotal point in these relations. Let us now hope the diplomats build on this – Secretary Kerry’s meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister bodes well.”

“Historical parallels exist. During the 1970s, when US influence in Asia was on the wane, President Nixon did not ignore the realities of power. Despite Chinese opposition during the Korean War, his trip to China in 1972, in the face of criticism both at home and abroad, was a diplomatic breakthrough.”

“Iran is key to a number of conflicts in the region, including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. We created this regional superpower through our misguided invasion of Iraq. We must now work with the consequences.”

Notes to Editors:

  • John resigned from the Conservative Front Bench to vote against the Iraq War. He opposed Western policy in Afghanistan once the original mission to clear the country of al-Qaeda had been achieved – and was the only Conservative to vote against continued Government policy when the issue was first debated in 2010. He was also the only Conservative to vote against the Libyan intervention.
  • John wrote a chapter on the future of British foreign policy – see ‘The Future of Conservative: Values Revisited’ (Biteback publishing, 2011), pp. 286-298).
  • The House of Commons debate on Iran is online at:

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