Commenting on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report, ‘No prosperity without justice: the UK’s relationship with Iran’, Dr Anicée Van Engeland, Associate Professor at Cranfield University, said: 

“The report highlights the need for the UK Government to foster a long-term, international response that addresses Iran’s human rights record, regional security and the nuclear issue. The recent execution of the dissident Ruhollah Zam demonstrates Iran’s continuing poor human rights record and why the international community must find an approach that addresses the need for justice.

“Alongside the criticism of the Iranian Government, the report also rightly considers the impact sanctions are having. The sanctions, while punishing the Iranian Government, are also hurting the Iranian people and this can lead to support for conservative hardliners who fuel criticism of the sanctions imposed by the West.

“The need to find a replacement to the JCPOA Nuclear Deal is urgent as there will be presidential elections in Iran in June. Coupling the nuclear issue with regional security matters or with missile controls is only going to delay negotiations and increase anxiety and pressure between Iran and the West. It is more important to get a deal done and continue to negotiate than aiming for a ‘perfect deal’ for all sides.

“A key step that the UK and the rest of the West should be taking as a priority is to create business opportunities with Iranian non-state companies and SMEs. There will be no improvement if the country isn't supported in its development. Yet, the promise of economic growth must be coupled with strong human rights standards. The recent postponement of the Europe-Iran Business Forum was therefore a missed opportunity to begin to seize these opportunities.”

Dr Anicée Van Engeland was asked by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to give oral evidence as part of the committee’s hearings during its evidence gathering sessions.