Iran angrily rejects Britain’s plan for a European protection mission in the Gulf – saying it will cause ‘insecurity’ – as Europhile MEP Guy Verhofstadt celebrates creation of a ‘European Naval Force’
- Jeremy Hunt suggested a joint European protection mission in the Middle East
- His plan came in response to Iran’s seizure of a British tanker in Strait of Hormuz
- But Iran has rejected the plan, insisting it is the guardian of security in the area
Iran has reacted with fury to Britain’s plan to organise a European protection mission in the Gulf.
Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt made the proposal last night as he condemned Iran’s seizure of the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday.
Tehran has made repeated threats to Western shipping since an Iranian tanker was impounded by British authorities off Gibraltar on July 4.
Today Iran warned that Mr Hunt’s plan would cause ‘insecurity’ – while Europhile MEP Guy Verhofstadt welcomed what he called a ‘European Naval Force’.
Keeping watch: An Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat sails in front of the Stena Impero, the UK-flagged vessel which was seized by Iranian authorities on Friday
‘There is no need to form a coalition because these kinds of coalitions and the presence of foreigners in the region by itself creates insecurity,’ Iranian vice president Eshaq Jahangiri said.
‘And other than increasing insecurity it will not achieve anything else.’
Meanwhile President Hassan Rouhani said that ‘throughout history, Iran has been and will be the main guardian of security and free navigation’ in the Gulf.
‘There is still no adequate and lasting stability and security in the region,’ he added, emphasising Tehran was not seeking to stoke tensions.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson that ‘Iran does not seek confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline.’
He also accused Britain ‘of doing the bidding for the Trump administration’.
‘It’s important for everybody to realize, it’s important for Boris Johnson to understand, that Iran does not seek confrontation, that Iran wants normal relations based on mutual respect,’ Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
There has been no public reaction yet from the European leaders that Mr Hunt sought to involve in his plan.
However, MEP Guy Verhofstadt – a cheerleader for European integration – welcomed what he called a ‘European Naval Force’.
Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt proposed a joint European mission last night as he condemned Iran’s seizure of the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday
On deck: The Stena is seen with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard boat beside it after it was captured on Friday
His language went considerably further that the co-operation which Mr Hunt had suggested in the House of Commons yesterday.
Mr Verhofstadt’s intervention may add to the longstanding concerns of British Eurosceptics about a possible EU military force.
Congratulating Mr Johnson on his victory, French leader Emmanuel Macron said he would discuss Iran with the new PM.
Earlier Iranian rear admiral Hossein Khanzadi revealed that Iran’s navy is acquiring new ‘intercontinental drones’ to monitor the oceans, as he made his sinister promise to watch Western ships.
‘We have this type of drones and we will certainly use them if necessary. These drones are being used in the vast region of the Indian Ocean now,’ he said.
The technology to track shipping may not be groundbreaking, but Iran is making the boast in a warning to the West just days after seizing one vessel.
One Iranian general claimed that Iran is ‘even ahead of the top world powers in the drones sector and we are way ahead of them’.
Iran also said yesterday it had arrested 17 suspects and sentenced some to death after dismantling a CIA spy network, a claim dismissed by Trump as ‘totally false’.
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