HL Deb 17 March 2005 vol 670 cc59-60WS
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

In March 2005, after consultation with the Ministry of Defence and the export control organisations, the DTI, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office donated armoured vests and body armour plates to the Iranian Anti-Narcotics Police (ANP). This gift was to provide an element of protection for the ANP in their work of countering drugs smuggling from Afghanistan. We are satisfied that these goods would be used only for anti-narcotics operations and are therefore prepared to make an exception to the UK national embargo announced in 1993, as amended in 1998.

We are fully committed to implementing the UK embargo on Iran. However, we are, in limited circumstances, prepared to make exceptions where denying an export or a gift would be contrary to the intention of the embargo. As the UK has been active in encouraging and assisting Iran with combating the smuggling of drugs from Afghanistan, I am confident that granting this exception is fully consistent with this responsible approach of supporting the ANP while respecting the aims of the embargo.

A departmental minute announcing the intention to make the gift was laid before Parliament on 22 February.

All export licences, F680s and Crown immunity gifts are considered on a case by case basis judged against the consolidated and national arms export licensing criteria.