UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron identified “the threat of Iran” as one of five significant “crises” creating an “extraordinarily difficult time for the world”, along with the Russia-Ukraine war, the conflict in the Middle East, terrorism, and climate change.
He said: “Iran is a thoroughly malign influence in the region and in the world – there’s no doubt about that. You’ve got the Houthis, you’ve got Hezbollah, you’ve got the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that have actually been attacking British and American bases, troops.”
“And, of course, Hamas. So you’ve got all of these proxies, and I think it’s incredibly important that, first of all, Iran receives an incredibly clear message that this escalation will not be tolerated.”
“Second of all, we need to work with our allies to develop a really strong set of deterrent measures against Iran, and it’s important that we do that. The level of danger and insecurity in the world is at an extremely high level compared with previous years and decades, and the Iran threat is a part of that picture.”
Britain will not tolerate the escalation of Iran’s “malign” activities in the Middle East or on UK soil, Cameron has warned.
He pledged that Britain would work with allies to “develop a really strong set of deterrent measures” against Tehran, adding that “things have changed”.
The former prime minister told The Telegraph that Iran must be sent “an incredibly clear message that this escalation will not be tolerated”.
Cameron also cited “more evidence” of the “unacceptable threat the Iranian regime poses to the lives of UK-based journalists” after it emerged that Iranian spies had offered a people smuggler $200,000 to assassinate two news presenters at a London-based Persian language news channel.
Iran tried to kill or kidnap British nationals or residents at least 10 times this year, MI5 director general Ken McCallum said in November.
By Feb of this year, there had been more than 15 credible threats or plots by the Iranian regime to kill British or UK-based individuals, according to government officials.
Cameron summoned the Iranian Chargé d’Affaires in London after ITV published a report detailing how Iranian spies planned to assassinate two presenters.
Moreover, Cameron said he was “extremely concerned” about the Houthi attacks “because the freedom of shipping and maritime security are incredibly important not just Britain, but actually the whole world”.
The UK will also send warships to join Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international naval coalition being assembled by the US to help safeguard commercial traffic from attacks by the Houthi actions.
Earlier this month, the former prime minister announced a new sanctions regime for Iran.
Asked whether there were other measures, in addition to sanctions, that could be deployed now, he said: “Not for public consumption.”
He added: “I think the first thing to do is to get Operation Prosperity Guardian underway, which we’re taking part in, and the second thing to do is a very clear warning to the Houthis and to their Iranian backers that we’re not going to tolerate these continued attacks on shipping.”