UK vs Iran: Jeremy Hunt vows to use ‘hard power’ in bid to derail conflict fears amid row

The Tory leadership hopeful warned that the Royal Navy had been “run down too much”, claiming the latest row between the UK and Iran was proof funding needed to be improved. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hunt said more warships were needed and the Navy needed to be “expanded to meet the threats we face”. His comments come after Iranian ships failed to hijack a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The ships attempted to seize the UK vessel as it skirted close to Iranian waters.

The ship was ordered to change course before the alleged Revolutionary Guard ships tried to seize the tanker.

But in his latest attempt to win votes in the upcoming Conservative leadership battle, Mr Hunt said he would increase warship and carrier-based jets as “boosting our hard power is the surest way to keep Britain respected overseas”.

He also waded into a dispute that erupted after oil companies argued petrol prices in the UK would jump up unless relations between the UK and Iran improved.

Mr Hunt argued that Iran acted with “incredible menace” following the attempted to halt the British Heritage tanker.

Iran responded by saying it had acted in response to the Royal Marines detainment of an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar last week.

The UK said it acted as it suspected the tanker to breach EU oil sanctions on Syria.

The former Health Secretary said: “When you look at this week’s events it shows that over recent decades, we have run down the Navy too much.”

Following the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker, Mohsen Rezaei, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council threatened the UK.

He said: “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker.”

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said the UK’s action had set “a dangerous precedent and must end now”.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic has also called the UK ambassador to Tehran to lodge a formal protest against the seizure.

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