Quote of the day 22nd June 2023

"We will not allow collaborations which compromise our national security."

PM Rishi Sunak, announcing a probe into reports that scientists are collaborating with counterparts in Iran on military drone technology.

The Prime Minister announced the inquiry following allegations that scientists at British universities have been helping Iran develop technology that could be used to upgrade its “suicide drone” programme.

The probe was announced in response to a JC investigation revealing that academics at more than a dozen UK universities, including Imperial College London, were working alongside their Iranian counterparts on drone research in an apparent breach of sanctions against the brutal regime.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, confirmed the probe at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. Government sources said the multi-departmental inquiry would involve officials from the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office, and science and technology experts.

With Iran’s suicide drones currently being deployed by Russia to bomb Ukraine, the JC revealed how UK academics were involved in research, some of it directly funded by the Iranian Government, to improve drone engines, boosting their altitude, speed and range.

Military experts said the advanced command-and-control system could enable Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — which runs its military drone programme — to launch “overwhelming” suicide swarm attacks on Israel or Western allies.

In my view the POM is absolutely right to launch this review: if there is any truth in the allegations that any British organisation has been sharing information with this kind of military application with Iran that is not just a breach of international sanctions against a hostile regime with one of the worst human rights records in the world, it is very close to treason.

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