AFP: Britain’s leaders are discussing how to respond to any military confrontation between Israel and Iran, including the possible involvement of its navy, the BBC reported Wednesday.
LONDON (AFP)— Britain’s leaders are discussing how to respond to any military confrontation between Israel and Iran, including the possible involvement of its navy, the BBC reported Wednesday.
As six world powers began talks in Baghdad with Iran on its nuclear programme, the BBC said the National Security Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, had met last week to discuss the issue.
It had discussed “not just the possibility of a military confrontation but what role, if any, Britain might play and whether any involvement would be legal”, the report said.
Government lawyers have been examining the legality of any British involvement, “ranging from British diplomatic support for Israel through to the possible involvement of the Royal Navy in the region”, the BBC reported.
Senior ministers on the council were told that if talks with Iran fail and Israel attacks its nuclear facilities, this might trigger a wider war in the Middle East, the report said, without citing sources.
Iran might respond not just by attacking Israel but also by closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key transit route for global oil supplies, the council — which co-ordinates responses to national security threats — was told at a meeting in London last week, said the report by the BBC’s political editor.
Top officials from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany began talks with Iranian leaders in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, aiming to persuade Tehran to suspend sensitive nuclear work.
A spokesman for Cameron said Britain would “vigorously” pursue the talks but declined to say what preparations the government was making in case they failed.
“The government has contingency plans for a whole range of things, but we don’t comment on them and I don’t think it is helpful to speculate on these things,” he told reporters.
“Iran is an issue that is discussed both by the National Security Council and Cabinet on a reasonably regular basis.”
Leaders in Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, believe the country’s existence could be threatened if Iran develops atomic weapons and have repeatedly said all options are on the table.
A former chief of Britain’s defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, warned parliament’s upper house last week that Iran could retaliate against Britain if attacked by Israel, meaning London must be prepared to respond.
Cameron told a parliamentary committee in March: “We think that military action against Iran by Israel would not be the right approach. We’ve said that both publicly and privately to the Israelis.”