Military action against Iran ‘cannot be ruled out’

Former defence and international trade secretary Liam Fox has said that military action against Iran cannot be ruled out following the drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil installations on Saturday.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Dr Fox said he believed it was becoming increasingly clear that Iran is to blame for the attacks.

He said: “Increasingly, looking at the intelligence sources we have, it seems that is the case.”

On whether military action should be taken, Dr Fox added: “You can’t rule anything out, nobody wants to see that – Iran haven’t ruled military involvement out to its neighbours.

“I think it’s difficult to rule out military action.”

The attacks targeted Abqaiq, the site of the world’s largest oil processing plant, run by the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, and the Khurais oilfield.

Iran denies involvement in Saturday’s air attacks, which were claimed by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Dr Fox added: “We have seen a constant destabilisation in the region – it now looks as though there might have been a direct attack on one of our allies in Saudi Arabia.”

He continued: “This is a serious situation and we’ve got to use all the levers we can at this present time as the situation is getting out of hand… It’s also affecting the global economy if Iran continues.”

Speaking earlier on the same programme, the newly appointed Saudi ambassador to London Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Al-Saud said the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations are “certainly Iranian-backed”.

Donald Trump
The US president pulled his country out of the nuclear accord (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo also blamed Iran at the weekend, without providing any evidence, prompting Tehran to accuse Washington of deceit.

Dr Fox continued: “Vice president (Mike) Pence made it very clear the finger was strongly pointing at Iran. We know that Iran have been funding groups like Hezbollah.”

Questioned on what the Government should do about escalating tensions, Dr Fox said: “We withdraw from the (nuclear) agreement, we accept it is dead.”

American president Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the nuclear agreement, but Britain has remained in the pact.

The agreement swapped the cessation of Iran’s nuclear programme for sanctions relief. Co-signatories were France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, as well as Iran itself.

Dr Fox concluded: “The only way to take this forwards is for Iran to feel the pressure financially of western sanctions.”

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