UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said he recognises the threat Iran poses in the Middle East and the US’s “right to self-defence”, after talks with his counterpart in Washington.
His meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes less than a day after Iran fired missiles at air bases housing US troops in Iraq.
Mr Raab also reiterated his support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
“We want to see the tensions deescalated,” he said.
The already tense relationship between the US and Iran has deteriorated significantly in recent days, after a US drone strike killed one of Iran’s top military commanders, General Qasem Soleimani.
Mr Raab welcomed US President Donald Trump’s call for a diplomatic resolution following Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes.
“Of course it also needs the government in Iran to be willing and committed to that outcome as well,” he added.
The US government said Gen Soleimani had been plotting “imminent attacks”, however Mr Raab refused to say whether he had seen any intelligence on this.
Mr Raab reiterated Britain’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on restricting Iran’s nuclear programme,
The foreign secretary said the UK government was “looking very hard at what should happen next” after Iran declared earlier this week that it would abandon all limits on its enrichment of uranium.
“We are absolutely committed, as our American and European partners are, to avoiding Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Iran’s announcement marked further fracturing of the 2015 nuclear deal, in which the country agreed to limit sensitive nuclear activities in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
The US withdrew from the deal in 2018, but the other parties – the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia – said they were still dedicated to it.
Mr Raab said while the UK has been committed to the deal, “we’ve reached a point where non-compliance has been so acute in the most recent steps taken by Iran.”
Asked whether there was still a chance that the deal could survive if Iran started to uphold its commitments, he said: “There is an opportunity to build on this deal.
“But ultimately the objective is the most important thing which is to avoid the risk of Iran seeking – let alone acquiring – a nuclear weapon.”