Jeremy Hunt hits out at Corbyn after he said there was no ‘credible evidence’ that Iran attacked oil tankers

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has hit back at Jeremy Corbyn after the Labour leader accused the Government of fuelling conflict with Iran.

Mr Corbyn said Britain should not be stoking a military escalation in the Gulf without “credible evidence” that Iran was behind the attacks on two oil tankers which dramatically heightened tensions in the region.

In response, Mr Hunt – who has said it was “almost certain” Tehran was behind the attacks – accused him of persistently failing to stand up for British interests and British allies.

“Pathetic and predictable,” he tweeted.

“From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

It is the second time in the past few weeks that tankers appear to have been attacked in the region and comes amid escalating tension between Iran and the United States.

Mr Corbyn tweeted on Friday: “Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation that began with US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

“Without credible evidence about the tanker attacks, the government’s rhetoric will only increase the threat of war.”

The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday (EPA)

Mr Corbyn’s comments were echoed by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who said US hardliners such as national security adviser John Bolton were trying to engineer regime change in Iran.

“These are extremely dangerous developments and we really have to pause and think about where we are going next,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“The idea that we are going to get enmeshed in another war is really something we need to think about very carefully. What we do not want is British forces being drawn into a conflict of that size.

“We have got to give up on this idea that if the United States decides to go into war – especially one engineered by the likes of John Bolton and the neo-cons – we have to stop and say there are times when we just don’t follow.”

Video claims to show Iran removing unexploded mine from Gulf tanker

On Friday, the US released footage said to show an unexploded mine being removed from one of the tankers by Iranian special forces.

The military said the video proved Iran was behind Thursday’s attacks on the Norwegian and Japanese tankers.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said “no other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible” for the incident.

But Iranian president Hassan Rouhani accused the US of “carrying out an aggressive policy and posing a serious threat to regional stability”.

The Foreign Office said “no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible”. (AFP/Getty Images)

Tehran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, earlier said the US “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence”.

On Friday, US president Donald Trump told Fox News that Iran “did do it”.

“I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it. And you saw the boat at night trying to take the mine off and successfully took the mine off the boat, and that was exposed,” he said.

The price of oil rocketed on Thursday amid fears of disruption to one of the world’s most important tanker routes as a result of instability in the region.

The suspected attacks came after four commercial ships were “subjected to sabotage operations” in the Arabian Gulf in May.

The FCO said a UAE-led investigation concluded that they were conducted by “a sophisticated state actor”.

“We are confident that Iran bears responsibility for that attack,” the FCO said.


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