As UK Foreign Minister visits Washington, US, UK strongly criticize Iran

The criticism of the regime coming from senior officials in a variety of countries underscores the extent of Iran's isolation from the West.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at press conference, Jan 17, 2023 (Photo:
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at press conference, Jan 17, 2023 (Photo:

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, visiting Washington on Tuesday, met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Speaking to journalists after their meeting, both officials expressed strong criticism of Iran.

In addition, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said she would support a European Union (EU) decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

This criticism of the regime coming from senior officials from a variety of countries underscores the extent of Iranian isolation from the West.

The current situation is very different from that of just two years ago, when the Biden administration took office. Along with its European partners, it blamed the previous administration for the tense relations with Tehran.

It believed that better ties could be established by returning to the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, which Donald Trump had left in 2018. As the accord was renewed, the Trump-era sanctions would end.

So, of course, the Iranians would welcome that, the Biden administration thought. But that approach has failed, and the US, UK, and EU are now pursuing a tougher path. 

British Opposition to the Iranian Regime

The British are furious with Iran, and the immediate trigger for their anger is the regime’s execution on Saturday of Alireza Akbari, a dual Iranian-British citizen.

Read More: U.S. slams Tehran for execution of dual UK-Iranian citizen

Cleverly denounced the “shameful and cowardly act” committed by the regime in executing Akbari, and also expressed his gratitude to the US for strongly condemning Akbari’s execution.

Cleverly voiced Britain’s support for the popular protests in Iran, now entering its fourth month, that were triggered by the Sept. 16 death of the young Kurdish woman, Zhina (Mahsa) Amini, while she was held by Tehran’s so-called morality police for wearing a headscarf improperly.

As Cleverly affirmed, with Blinken standing next to him, “our two countries stand with the brave and dignified people of Iran, as they demand their rights to live free of terror and oppression.”

Moreover, other issues have arisen to turn London against the Iranian regime. They include its external aggression. “For years, Iran’s leadership have inflicted bloodshed on their regional neighbors by arming and supporting military extremists and militias,” Cleverly said. “Now Iran has gone further and supplied Russia with drones that were used to kill civilians in Ukraine.”

“The UK will join with the US and other allies to hold the Iranian regime to account for the violations of the rights of their own people and by making themselves accomplices to Putin’s assault on Ukraine,” he continued.

Cleverly also described Iran’s nuclear program as “another threat to the international peace and security,” explaining that it has “never been more advanced.” But “the US and UK are determined that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon,” he vowed.

US Opposition to the Iranian Regime

US opposition to the Iranian regime is grounded in very similar issues. To be sure, one can find differences between Washington and London, but they are subtle.

The US, for example, is more prepared than the UK to declare that the nuclear negotiations are no longer a viable option. “With regard to the JCPOA,” Blinken stated, “the Iranians killed the opportunity to come back to that agreement swiftly many months ago.”

“There was an opportunity on the table that they rejected,” he continued, and “so the JCPOA has not been on the agenda as a practical matter for many months now.”

Although that statement made headlines in some US media, it is, in fact, a position the Biden administration has articulated for some time.

Read More: Joe Biden: Iranian nuclear deal is “dead”

Indeed, the US even leaves open the possibility of the use of military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Read More: Biden committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon; military option remains as ‘last resort’

The European Union at Davos

Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, underscored the extent of Iran’s alienation from the West in her remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, she expressed her support for listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

“They are trampling over fundamental human rights,” she said, referring to the regime’s suppression of the popular protests.

“We (EU) are looking at a new round of sanctions, and I would support also listing the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization,” she continued. “I have heard several ministers asking for that, and I think they are right.”