Boris Johnson declines to rule out military action against Iran over Saudi oil attacks

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

Boris Johnson has refused to rule out Britain joining military action against Iran as he blamed it for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

The 14 September attack on the Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia has raised tensions between the United States and Iran.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister - who will hold talks with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly in New York - said UK officials believed there was a "very high degree of probability" that Tehran was behind raids that initially halved Saudi Arabia's oil output and sent world prices soaring.

“The UK is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran for the Aramco attacks," the Prime Minister told reporters. "We think it very likely indeed that Iran was indeed responsible."

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He added: "We will be working with our American friends and our European friends to construct a response that tries to deescalate tensions in the Gulf region."

But, asked whether that could include military action, Mr Johnson said: "Clearly if we are asked, either by the Saudis or by the Americans, to have a role then we will consider in what way we could be useful."

United States President Donald Trump has already ordered a round of new sanctions on Iran over the attack, while his secretary of state Mike Pompeo has described it as an "act of war".

The US - which has confirmed it will send troops to the region - has disputed claims of responsibility for the attack by Houthi rebels in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia has presented pieces of weaponry which it claims ties Iran to the incident.

Mr Johnson said he would raise Iran's actions in the region with President Rouhani, as well as pressing for the release of several dual nationals being held "illegally and unfairly" by Tehran.

CLEAN ENERGY BOOST

The Prime Minister will also use his trip to the United States to pledge £1bn to a new clean energy fund designed to boost technology that will help combat climate change. 

A further £220m - drawn from the UK's overseas aid budget - will be used to protect endangered species from extinction.

The new fund will be named after British scientist and suffragette Hertha Ayrton.

Mr Johnson said: "I have always been deeply optimistic about the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

"If we get this right, future generations will look back on climate change as a problem that we solved by determined global action and the prowess of technology.

"The new fund I'm launching today rightly honours Hertha Ayrton, one of Britain's most extraordinary minds who drove relentlessly to improve our scientific understanding and left a legacy of innovation and creativity for which the world owes an immeasurable debt."