IRAN is a country with a fascinating history and culture. As beautiful as it may be, the ugliness of the despotic regime mars a country with incredible potential. In the pursuit of power, the regime for years spent time, money and effort on nuclear development instead of education, the economy and developing individual freedoms.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a phenomenal exercise in international diplomacy and negotiation. Having been weakened by sanctions, the Iranian regime came to the table to work out and agreed to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

It was not a perfect agreement. It did not include measures on Iranian foreign policy nor on its ballistic missile programme. Many of details were timebound, with so-called sunset clauses which had an expiry date. Yet it was a step forward when the JCPOA was agreed between Iran, the US, UK, Germany, China and Russia in 2015, with the EU playing a critical role as a neutral power to ensure all parties remained committed to the terms of the deal. Hopes were high that, perhaps, Iran could be reintegrated into the international community as a positive and benevolent actor.

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Fast forward six years and the agreement is on the verge of collapse. The short-sighted incompetence of Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposition of sanctions in the name of “maximal pressure” was a major factor for this. On the other hand, the leadership in Iran has not helped itself by breaching the terms of the JCPOA since May 2019. The International Atomic Energy Agency have confirmed that Iran has stepped up its enrichment of uranium to as much as 60%, far above the 3.67% limit stipulated in the JCPOA.

There is absolutely no justification for the levels of enriched uranium that Iran now has and its capacity to make more. There is no civilian purpose for such a product. It is simply an effort to achieve nuclear weapons, which must be resisted and stopped.

As one of the parties to the JCPOA, the UK can and should be doing more. Magnitsky sanctions are an option as are other embargoes. However, these will only go so far and run the risk of Iran further isolating itself and destabilising the countries about it.

A nuclear-armed Iran would be a danger to a fragile Middle East and the wider world. This is why the JCPOA, despite its flaws, is the best chance of bringing Iran back to the table. The decision last week not to hold a Brussels meeting to try and push on efforts for restoring the JCPOA was disappointing. Nonetheless, the UK and other parties should continue in these efforts, putting more impetus and faith in diplomacy, not less.

That all being said, the UK is hardly a bastion of credibility in international law under the Tories. As I noted in Parliament last week, the UK has frequently shown its disregard for legally binding rules and treaty obligations over Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said that the Northern Ireland Protocol would be breached in a “limited and specific way”.

The PM’s former adviser Dominic Cummings claims that the UK Government always intended “to ditch bits we didn’t like” after agreeing to the Protocol. These revelations prompted the former Irish taoiseach and current deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar to say: “The message must go out to all countries around the world that this is a British government that doesn’t necessarily keep its word, doesn’t necessarily honour the agreements it makes.”

More sinisterly we heard the Lord Chancellor recently float the constitutionally and legally illiterate idea that the Government will somehow intervene in and overturn decisions on human rights where the judges get them wrong. That sort of statement would not be out of place in Tehran, and the UK should be conscious of the examples it is setting.

And yet what is just as concerning is that whilst the UK wants Iran not to seek nuclear weapons it still maintains its apocalyptic arsenal. Indeed, it is even expanding it further against the wishes of the people of Scotland. In addition to the cause of Scottish independence and furthering the welfare of the people of Scotland, the SNP is and will remain staunchly opposed to nuclear weapons. If the UK is serious about cutting back on nuclear proliferation, it should consider its own role in encouraging the spread and development of these weapons.

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This international hypocrisy will not help bring Iran back to the table, or indeed any other rogue state. If the UK cannot be trusted to follow international treaties or obligations, why should those who want to tear down the rules-based order do so? It sets a bad example for the bad actors who already exist in the world.

We will continue to hold the UK Government to account and press for a resolution to the Iranian problem. But we should also be wary of the lessons that this incompetent Tory government is showing us. Once a deal is struck, it can only be revoked with immense loss of trust and credibility. Populist leaders may promise the world but never consider the costs. Detailed, credible plans grounded in reality rather than fantasy politics will win us our independence over the long run. As we gear up for the next referendum, we should bear this in mind when making our case to Scotland.