Iran tensions: UK will not join Trump in war against Tehran, says Jeremy Hunt

Tory leadership hopeful reveals Foreign Office ‘very concerned about ... risks of an accidental war’

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 25 June 2019 14:42
Jeremy Hunt says UK would not join US in war against Iran

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he “cannot envisage” any scenario in which the UK would agree to join the US in waging war against Iran.

The Tory leadership hopeful told MPs in the Commons that the Foreign Office is “very concerned about the situation in the Middle East and the risks of an accidental war” as the feud between Washington and Tehran escalates.

“The US is our closest ally, we talk to them the whole time, we consider any requests that they say carefully, but I cannot envisage any situation where they request or we agree to any moves to go to war,” Mr Hunt told parliament.

Boris Johnson’s rival for No 10 attempted to reassure MPs he was trying to de-escalate the crisis after he was asked by SNP MP Alan Brown to confirm Britain would “not be dragged blindly” into any possible US-Iran conflict.

“We’ve made serious efforts to de-escalate tension, including a visit by my friend the minister for the Middle East to Tehran at the end of last week,” said the foreign secretary.

Former foreign office minister Alistair Burt asked Mr Hunt “to remind” his US counterparts about the words of the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus on conflict resolution.

The Tory MP said: “In his conversations with his US counterparts about Iran, would he remind them of David Petraeus’s key question, “Tell me how this ends?””

Mr Burt added: “While it is very clear that Iran has to take actions to assuage regional tensions, does he agree with me that the United States needs to move cautiously?”

Mr Hunt responded: “Neither side wants war in this situation but it is very important that there are ladders for people to climb down so that discussions and negotiations can take place.”

On Tuesday Iran condemned new US sanctions targeting the country’s supreme leader and other senior officials, saying the measures spell the “permanent closure” of diplomacy between the two nations.

President Hassan Rouhani said Donald Trump’s White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”, and called the Trump administration’s sanctions against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “outrageous and idiotic”.

Donald Trump orders new sanctions against Iran's supreme leader and associates

Labour MP Daniel Zeichner asked Mr Hunt what work the British government is currently doing with the UN to help ease tensions.

Mr Hunt said: “We have been doing extensive work and the message that we are sending with our partners in the European Union, particularly the French and the Germans, is that with respect to Iran’s nuclear programme this is a crucial week.

“They have said they will reach the limits of what they are allowed to get to for low-enriched uranium by the 27th, that will be later on this week,” he added. “It is absolutely essential that they stick to that deal in its entirety for it to preserve and for us to have a nuclear-free Middle East.”

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