Britain Warns U.S.-Iran Conflict Could Happen ‘By Accident’
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned that a conflict could break out “by accident” between the United States and Iran amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Hunt made the remarks to reporters in Brussels on May 13 ahead of talks there with the French and German foreign ministers, and with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, about how to keep intact the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
His warning came after the United States deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf to counter an unspecified threat that Washington says has been posed by Iran.
The ministers’ May 13 talks with Mogherini follow an announcement by Tehran last week that it will scale back some of its commitments under the 2015 agreement if world powers do not protect its interests against U.S. sanctions.
Tensions have been escalating between Iran and the United States since Washington withdrew from the deal a year ago and reimposed sanctions against Iran.
Under the accord, Iran accepted curbs to its nuclear program in return for relief from crippling economic sanctions.
European backers of the pact have been trying to salvage the agreement, but Tehran has complained that the process is too slow.
Before meeting with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany, Mogherini told reporters that the Western European parties to the nuclear pact “continue to support it as much as we can with all our instruments and all our political will.”
The talks will focus on “how to continue to best support the full implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran that, for us, remains a key pillar of security in our region,” Mogherini said.
European countries said last week that they wanted to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also arrived in Brussels early on May 13 for what the U.S. State Department said would be talks with European officials on Iran and other issues.
Mogherini said early on May 13 that she was informed overnight of Pompeo’s arrival in Brussels.
But Mogherini said she was unable to confirm whether Pompeo would join the EU ministers’ meeting on May 13.
“We will be here all day with a busy agenda, so we will see during the day how and if we manage to arrange a meeting,” she said.
Russia and China are the other two signatories to the Iran nuclear agreement.