AFP: Britain is neither planning nor advocating military action against Iran over its nuclear programme or its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted Tuesday.
LONDON (AFP)— Britain is neither planning nor advocating military action against Iran over its nuclear programme or its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted Tuesday.
A British frigate joined an international flotilla steaming through the strategic sea lane at the weekend, and London said it could send reinforcements if Iran follows through on its threat in retaliation for fresh sanctions.
But Hague insisted that increased diplomatic pressure on Tehran over its contested nuclear drive, including the European Union’s decision on Monday to ban Iranian oil imports, were designed to fend off the likelihood of conflict.
“I do stress that we are not calling for or advocating military action,” Hague told lawmakers in the House of Commons, where he was called to answer an urgent question on Iran.
“It’s the job of our armed forces to prepare for many contingencies. But we are not calling for that. We have successfully called for and introduced effective sanctions because we don’t want to see a military conflict,” he said.
Former foreign minister Jack Straw expressed concern during the debate about “strong demands in parts of the Israeli administration” for unilateral action against Iran, and bullish rhetoric from US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Despite stressing Britain’s peaceful motives, Hague made clear that any attempt by Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a key transit route for global oil supplies, would be “unsuccessful”.
Referring to the deployment of HMS Argyll at the weekend, Hague said: “This was a routine movement but it underlined the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law.
“Any attempt by Iran to block the Strait would be both illegal and unsuccessful.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said earlier that more resources could be sent to the area, saying: “The UK has a contingent capability to reinforce that presence should at any time it be considered necessary to do so.”