Tensions with Iran

Tensions between Iran and the US are rising in relation to Iran’s nuclear policy and its intentions in the Middle East. The UK shares US, European and Gulf partners’ concerns about Iran’s destabilising activities in the region. The threat that Iran poses is concerning, not only for regional stability, but because of its implications for our security and that of our allies. The UK is working with its allies and partners to de-escalate the situation, understand the facts behind recent events, and protect British shipping.

Recent statements from the US stress it is not trying to destabilise the region, but that it wants to see a change in Iran’s behaviour. Ministers share the concerns of the US and others about Iran’s influence in the region, but any kind of conflict with Iran would be massively destabilising and is the last thing the Middle East needs. I know Ministers will continue to work hard to ensure that does not happen.

Freedom of navigation is a vital interest of every nation. That is why the UK Government will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region. The Foreign Office has had constructive discussions with a number of countries and will discuss the best way to complement this with recent US proposals in this area. The new force will be focused on free navigation, bearing in mind that one fifth of the world’s oil, a quarter of its liquefied natural gas, and trade worth half a trillion dollars, passes through the Strait of Hormuz every year. The UK Government will seek to establish this mission as quickly as possible. As part of the UK’s long-standing presence in the Gulf, the UK Government has dispatched HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, to take over from HMS Montrose. She will arrive in the region by the 29 July.

I am assured that the UK remains committed to the 2015 nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and while Iran keeps to its commitments, so too will the UK. Keeping the deal alive is important for regional stability, and I know Ministers continue to make this clear to our international partners. The UK’s response to the seizure of the Stena Impero will not be part of the US maximum pressure policy on Iran because the UK remains committed to preserving the Iran nuclear agreement.

The UK Government will ask all British-flagged ships to give notice of any intention to pass through the Strait of Hormuz so they can be offered protection. The UK Government will then advise them as to the safest way to transit, which may involve travelling in convoy. Measures will be strengthened to protect ships flying the flags of other countries but which have British crew on board.


Last updated July 2019