01:24 GMT16 May 2021
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    Iran has rejected plans for a European maritime force to defend shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. This decision from the country follows announcements made by Jeremy Hunt earlier this week to seek a coalition between counterparts in Europe.

    Speaking from Tehran, Iranian Vice-President, Eshaq Jahangiri, ruled that any international coalition to protect the Gulf would bring only insecurity.

    Focusing on the growing tensions between Iran and Britain and this most recent refusal from Tehran; Professor John Dunn from Kings College at the University of Cambridge, said that Britain is in a very awkward position.

    Sputnik: On Wednesday, after negotiations between Britain and Europe, Iran has rejected plans for the creation of European maritime force to defend shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. Firstly how significant is this decision and was it to be expected?

    John: I think this was to be expected and in a way, we can't tell yet how significant it is. The basic issue is how hard each of the parties is prepared to push their luck. Iran is not one entity - it's a variety of different political forces and different bits of military apparatus. It's not necessarily true that anyone in particular in Iran is in control of all it. Obviously, it's getting more dangerous as you go along really; Britain is in a very awkward position because they don't want the nuclear agreement to simply collapse, although in some sense it already has collapsed and so it doesn't want to be responsible for collapsing.

    On the other hand, it does need to protect its oil supplies and it's certainly easier to do that in collaboration with a number of other states. From the Iranian point of view, the Gulf is their space and it's never been acceptable, particularly for this be a heavy foreign military naval presence there. Iran is in a very conflicted relationship at the moment with the United States thanks to Trump having torn up the agreement and his having these two prominent advisors who were really very keen on the idea of proper conflict with Iran. So it's a bit dangerous really.

    Sputnik: These plans were the creation of Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, which followed alongside plans to increase military spending for the country’s Navy and overall Defense budget. How will Britain likely react to this kickback?

    John: It depends on how hard to take turns to be. They won't react particularly to the Iranian's saying things - they're not completely demented. First of all, it's not particularly clear who's going to be the foreign secretary the day after tomorrow. British Naval power is a very weak now and in spending a bit more now won't make any difference at all to it. I'm not sure what the total resources that Hunt was trying to put together would be able to dispose but certainly nothing very impressive.

    The Iranian's are very good at 'hit and run' really. I mean, they have a lot of practice at it they are very uninhibited. I didn't see this being like the Falklands really. I just think that Britain is really not in a position to menace anywhere else any longer. This is a very confused situation - Britain is very weak but it is also I think, quite rationally anxious about the effect of conflict in the Gulf on oil supplies. I didn't think the British position is either coherent or sensible I must say.

    Sputnik:  What options should Britain consider to help ease tensions between them and Iran?

    John: Well, I think it would be wise to do exactly the opposite of what it's likely to do at the moment, given the fact that Boris Johnson has just become Prime Minister. I think that what is really important is for Britain to keep on distinguishing itself sharply, from an Iranian point of view, from the United States of America because it's not clear what the United States is going to do but it is absolutely clear if it does anything too drastic it could be very, very bad.

    It certainly could mean that the oil supplies in the Gulf are jeopardized. So I think it's really important for Britain to discourage American military adventurism in the Gulf and to make it absolutely clear that Britain has no part in it and I think that's obviously difficult to do. It's a pretty crazy time a lot very foolish things going on at once.

    The views and opinions expressed by John Dunn are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Strait of Hormuz, Jeremy Hunt, U.K, U.S, Iran
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