I propose to take Questions Nos. 86, 288 and 300 together.
International concerns about the nature and aims of Iran's nuclear programme, which are shared by Ireland, have been the focus of diplomatic efforts for some years. The EU has been actively engaged with the Iranian authorities since 2004 in trying to reach a satisfactory resolution of this issue. This EU commitment was repeated in the Declaration on Iran which was issued by the European Council in December. An intrinsic element of this approach has been the need to introduce progressively stronger measures which might persuade Iran to reconsider its position. This need is reinforced by the continuing refusal of Iran to comply with its obligations under both IAEA and UN Security Council Resolutions, and by the current stalemate in the negotiations. Consistent with this dual-track approach, the European Council Declaration stated that the Union would support action by the UN Security Council if Iran continues to ignore its obligations.
In line with our consistent support for the efforts of the E3+3, Ireland has always made clear that, in the event of continuing non-compliance by Iran, we could contemplate the adoption of further restrictive measures against Iran. Our strong preference would be for this to be agreed at UN level. If this cannot be achieved, we would be ready to support EU action. Discussions are continuing in New York on a possible new Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions against Iran but it is likely to be a number of weeks yet before any such text is tabled.
Iran's own neighbours, especially its Gulf Arab neighbours, have long made clear their extreme concern at the implications of Iran's nuclear programme, and indeed have raised the possibility that they may feel obliged to follow a similar path, which would be most unwelcome in an already tense region. It is in this context that recent reports of possible defensive measures, including by US forces based in the Gulf, should be seen. However, it is important to stress that all sides, including the United States, have made clear that they are committed to a peaceful resolution of this issue through diplomacy. This remains the absolute priority for Ireland and our EU partners.
The EU has been vocal in its reaction to the deterioration in human rights generally in Iran since the disputed Presidential elections, with a particular focus on the maltreatment of those in detention and the need for due legal process to prevail. High Representative Ashton has issued a number of strong statements, the latest on 11 February, expressing the EU's serious concerns regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran which Ireland welcomes and fully supports. I note that High Representative Ashton also issued a joint statement with the United States on 8 February in which the European Union and the United States together condemned the continuing human rights violations in Iran since the June 12 election and called on the Government of Iran to live up to its international human rights obligations, to end its abuses against its own people, to hold accountable those who have committed the abuses and to release those who are exercising their rights.
I have also reported to the House on a number of occasions of my own efforts to engage with the Iranian authorities bilaterally on the steady deterioration of human rights protection in Iran in recent years. Most recently during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Iran on 15 February Ireland raised a number is issues including the continued use of the death penalty, and of torture in Iranian prisons as well as women's rights and the situation of human rights defenders. My Department has also raised the case of a number of those detained since the elections last June, including that of Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh, an American citizen who was sentenced to five years imprisonment in Iran for a variety of charges linked to the post election disturbances in Iran. We welcome Dr. Tajbakhsh's brief release to celebrate the Persian New Year with his family and will continue to monitor his case closely.