Britain's Hunt is Committed to Preventing a Nuclear Middle East

Published July 15th, 2019 - 11:22 GMT
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. (Shutterstock/ File Photo)
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Great Britain, Jeremy Hunt. (Shutterstock/ File Photo)

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday the Western nuclear agreement with Iran "isn't dead yet," and that he remains "totally committed" to preventing a nuclear Middle East.

Iran, Hunt said, is already in one of the most unstable regions in the world -- and adding nuclear weapons would represent an existential threat to mankind."

Hunt travelled to Belgium Monday to meet with other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France. Iran has recently begun to violate terms of the deal by increasing uranium enrichment.

"If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, then other countries in the region will acquire nuclear weapons," Hunt said. "It becomes a very, very toxic and dangerous situation."

The United States under President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the pact, but its other parties have signalled a desire to keep it in force. The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions against Tehran since the withdrawal and taken other steps to isolate the nation.

Iran's decision this month to surpass the uranium stockpile limit set by the JCPOA followed an escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, which included a drone shootdown and attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

London's chief diplomat said this is a "rare" occasion in which the United States and Britain disagree, but they're working "very closely in the pursuit of peace."

"The thing we agree with the Americans on is the long-term solution to the tensions in the Middle East -- an Iran which ceases the destabilizing activity that is happening in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen -- and that is the root cause of the problems," Hunt said.

In a joint statement before Hunt's trip, Britain, France and Germany said they were "deeply troubled" by recent events.

"We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue," the countries said. "The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions."

Iran maintains that it's nuclear program is for scientific and energy-generation purposes only.

British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker of Gibraltar earlier this month believing it was transporting Iranian crude oil bound for Syria, a violation of British sanctions. Tehran threatened to answer by seizing a British ship.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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