Britain’s foreign secretary on Monday warned Iran not to “underestimate the resolve of the US” amid heightened tensions across the Persian Gulf.
Jeremy Hunt told journalists in Geneva that US leaders “are not seeking a conflict, they don’t want a war with Iran, but if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians need to think about very, very carefully.”
Hunt added that Britain has had a lot of discussions with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Iran. He said he hopes Iran starts to “pull back from the destabilizing activities” it conducts in the region.
The foreign secretary acknowledged the danger the tensions posed for the wider Middle East.
“We want the situation to deescalate because this is a part of the world where things can get triggered accidentally,” he added.
Relations between Washington and Tehran plummeted a year ago when Trump pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposed tough sanctions.
Tensions have ratcheted up further this month, with Washington announcing additional economic measures against Tehran, before deploying a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over unspecified Iranian “threats.”
The claim has been met with widespread skepticism outside the United States.
The Trump administration last week ordered nonessential diplomatic staff out of Iraq, citing threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups.
On Sunday evening, a rocket was fired into the Green Zone of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, which houses government offices and embassies including the US mission.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but the Iraqi military says it believes the rocket was fired from east Baghdad, home to a number of Iran-backed Shiite militias.
Hours later, Trump tweeted an ominous warning at Iran, warning it not to threaten US again or it would face its “official end.”
Iran’s Foreign Minster Mohammad Javad Zarif quickly responded in kind on Twitter with his own message, claiming that Trump had been “goaded” into making the “genocidal taunts” by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“Never threaten an Iranian. Try respect — it works!” he added.