First Published: 2012-05-24


After Iraq war, Britain 'discussing role in any Iran-Israel conflict'


BBC reports British government lawyers have been examining the legality of any British involvement in any military confrontation between Israel, Iran.


Middle East Online

Cameron: We think that military action against Iran by Israel would not be the right approach

LONDON - Britain's leaders are discussing how the country would respond to any military confrontation between Israel and Iran, including the possible involvement of its navy, the BBC reported Wednesday.

As six world powers began talks in Baghdad with Tehran on its nuclear programme, the BBC said the National Security Council, which is chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, had met last week to discuss the issue.

It had discussed "not just the possibility of a military confrontation but what role, if any, Britain might play and whether any involvement would be legal", the report said.

Government lawyers have been examining the legality of any British involvement, "ranging from British diplomatic support for Israel through to the possible involvement of the Royal Navy in the region", the BBC reported.

Senior ministers on the council were told that if talks with Iran fail and Israel attacks its nuclear facilities, this might trigger a wider war in the Middle East, the report said, without citing sources.

Iran might respond not just by attacking Israel but also by closing the Strait of Hormuz, a key transit route for global oil supplies, the council -- which co-ordinates responses to national security threats -- was told at a meeting in London last week, said the report by the BBC's political editor.

Top officials from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany began talks with Iranian leaders in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, aiming to persuade Tehran to suspend sensitive nuclear work.

Leaders in Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, believe the country's existence could be threatened if Iran develops atomic weapons and have repeatedly said all options are on the table.

A former chief of Britain's defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, warned parliament's upper house last week that Iran could retaliate against Britain if attacked by Israel, meaning London must be prepared to respond.

The previous Labour government faced a backlash over its participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and presence there until 2011, including doubts over whether the military action was legal under international law.

Current junior coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, who are partnered with the Conservatives, opposed the war in Iraq and are insisting any future action be clearly within international law, the BBC report said.

Cameron told a parliamentary committee in March: "We think that military action against Iran by Israel would not be the right approach. We've said that both publicly and privately to the Israelis."


Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison