Press release

PM: We are clear-eyed about threat from Iran

Theresa May will tell the Gulf Co-operation Council the UK is committed to working with Gulf partners to counter the threat from Iran.

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The Prime Minister will tell Gulf leaders in Bahrain today that she is clear eyed about the threat Iran poses to the Gulf and the Middle East while underlining the importance of the nuclear deal struck last year.

Speaking at the Gulf Co-operation Council, the Prime Minister will say that the UK is firmly committed to our strategic partnership with the Gulf and to working with Gulf partners to counter the threat from Iran and its destabilising activities in the region.

The Prime Minister will make clear that the nuclear deal was vitally important for regional security but progress on that does not mean the UK will ignore other issues where Iranian actions continue to cause concern.

Addressing the plenary of the Gulf Co-operation Council in Manama, the Prime Minister is expected to say:

As we address new threats to our security, so we must also continue to confront state actors whose influence fuels instability in the region. So I want to assure you that I am clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to the Gulf and the wider Middle East; and the UK is fully committed to our strategic partnership with the Gulf and working with you to counter that threat.

We secured a deal which has neutralised the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons for over a decade. It has already seen Iran remove 13,000 centrifuges together with associated infrastructure and eliminate its stock of 20% enriched uranium. That was vitally important for regional security. But we must also work together to push back against Iran’s aggressive regional actions, whether in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria or in the Gulf itself.

The Prime Minister will also lead the discussion on Iran in a session focussed on regional security issues following her speech.

The Prime Minister will make clear that we are under no illusions about Iran’s aggressive regional actions – highlighting Iran’s pattern of destabilising regional activity, including sending fighters including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force to Syria to shore up the Assad regime, providing support to the Houthis in Sanaa and so working against the interests of the international community in bringing about peace and stability in Yemen, and undermining stability in Lebanon and Iraq.

The Prime Minister is expected to say that the nuclear agreement provides an opportunity to develop relations with Tehran which will allow us to engage more directly with Iran on issues of concern and that we will do so in a clear-eyed, hard-headed manner.

The Prime Minister will reiterate her commitment to working with the Gulf to push back against Iran, as the UK has done since we first escorted tankers through the Gulf in the 1980s right through to our co-operation today, whether that is supporting coalition activity in Yemen or standing up for the moderate opposition in Syria and against Assad.

Published 7 December 2016