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”.
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.”
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 Iran against oil tankers”.
Hunt, who had said the attacks built on “a pattern of destabilising Iranian behaviour and pose a serious danger to the region”, criticised Corbyn for his comments.
“Pathetic and predictable,” Hunt tweeted. “From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”
Later on Saturday, the UK Foreign Office also said a report from the semi-official ISNA news agency that the British ambassador to Tehran had been summoned to a meeting with an Iranian foreign ministry official was incorrect.
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”.
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