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Labour leader urges UK to ease tensions in Gulf after Foreign Office links blasts to Tehran

Jeremy Corbyn has called for the government to abstain from escalating tensions with Iran without “credible evidence” that Tehran was responsible for attacks on two oil tankers.

The Labour leader said Britain risked increasing the threat of war after the Foreign Office (FCO) said it was “almost certain” in its assessment that “a branch of the Iranian military … attacked the two tankers on 13 June”.

The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, described Corbyn’s comments as “pathetic and predictable”.

The FCO had said: “No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible,” and pointed to a “recent precedent for attacks by Iranagainst oil tankers”.

Hunt, condemned the attacks, saying they built on “a pattern of destabilising Iranian behaviour and pose a serious danger to the region”.

On Friday, the US released footage said to show an unexploded mine being removed from one of the tankers by Iranian special forces.

But the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, accused the US of “carrying out an aggressive policy and posing a serious threat to regional stability”.

The foreign minister, Javad Zarif, had said earlier that the US “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence”.

Corbyn tweeted: “Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation that began with US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

“Without credible evidence about the tanker attacks, the government’s rhetoric will only increase the threat of war.”

Hunt hit back at Corbyn over his comments, tweeting: “Pathetic and predictable. From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

Hunt said Britain’s assessment “leads us to conclude that responsibility for the attacks almost certainly lies with Iran”.

“We call on Iran urgently to cease all forms of destabilising activity. The UK remains in close coordination with international partners to find diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions.”

On Friday, Donald Trump told Fox News that Iran “did do it”.

“I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” the US president said. “And you saw the boat at night trying to take the mine off and successfully took the mine off the boat, and that was exposed.”

The price of oil rose sharply on Thursday amid fears of disruption to one of the world’s most important tanker routes.

The suspected attacks came after four commercial ships were “subjected to sabotage operations” in the Gulf in May.

The FCO said a UAE-led investigation had concluded that they were conducted by “a sophisticated state actor”.

“We are confident that Iran bears responsibility for that attack,” the FCO said.

Sorgente: Corbyn: no ‘credible evidence’ of Iran role in tanker attacks | Politics | The Guardian

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