Risk of accidental US-Iran war, Hunt warns

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said there is a risk the US and Iran could end up at war unintentionally.

It comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled the Moscow leg of his trip to Russia to discuss Iran’s latest nuclear threat with Mr Hunt and his European counterparts in Brussels instead.

Speaking as he arrived for the talks, Mr Hunt said: “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Jeremy Hunt at the European Council in Brussels
Image: Mike Pompeo (L) discussed Iran with Jeremy Hunt at the European Council in Brussels

“What we need is a period of calm to make sure that everyone understands what the other side is thinking, and most of all we need to make sure we don’t end up putting Iran back on the path to renuclearisation.

“If Iran becomes a nuclear power its neighbours are likely to want to become nuclear powers. This is already the most unstable region in the world and this would be a massive step in the wrong direction.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday’s talks would focus on “how to continue to best support the full implementation of the nuclear deal”.

Hassan Rouhani has issued an ultimatum to the remaining world power of the 2015 nuclear deal
Image: Hassan Rouhani has issued an ultimatum to the remaining world powers of the nuclear deal

Mr Pompeo will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi as planned on Tuesday.

More from Iran

His change of course comes after Saudi Arabia said two of its tankers – one of which was on its way to pick up oil to take to the US – were attacked on Sunday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Iran’s foreign ministry demanded further details about what happened and warned against any “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism by foreigners” to undermine the maritime region’s stability and security.

It comes amid growing tensions between the US and Iran after Tehran threatened to increase its uranium enrichment if new and better terms under the 2015 nuclear deal were not reached with world powers in 60 days.

President Hassan Rouhani issued the ultimatum on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Obama-era agreement and reimposed sanctions.

Letters were sent to the remaining signatories of the deal – Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany.

Speaking alongside Mr Pompeo in London last week, Mr Hunt said there would be “consequences” for Iran if it reneged on its commitments under the deal.

Mr Pompeo said Iran had made several statements on the matter “to get the world to jump” and the US would wait and see what action Tehran would “actually” take.

The threat also followed the US deployment of an aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East after national security adviser John Bolton said the US had received “clear indications” that Iran was preparing to possibly attack American forces in the region.

In an interview with CNBC at the weekend, Mr Pompeo said the US was not seeking a war with Iran.

“In the event that Iran decided to come after an American interest – whether that be in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or any place in the Middle East – we are prepared to respond in an appropriate way,” he said of the decision to dispatch the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Gulf.

“Our aim is not war,” he added.

Source: SKY NEWS

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