Demands for greater political, social and economic participation continue in the middle east and north Africa, particularly in Syria where the situation is of grave concern. The UK remains concerned over Iran’s nuclear programme and its continued attempts to develop nuclear weapons. The UK continues to work with other countries to achieve a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We want a negotiated solution, not a military one, but we are clear that all options should be kept on the table. We assess that the regional security situation will remain fragile.
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s appraisal of the Iranian nuclear programme; no options should be left off the table. Will he ensure that the Iranians are under no illusions and state that, if necessary, the United Kingdom has the capability to act—and act decisively?
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has already made the situation abundantly clear. The UK, together with the United States, seeks a peaceful solution to the Iranian crisis, but we are very clear that a combination of engagement and continued pressure is the way to deliver that. We look forward to the resumed E3 plus 3 talks, and we are also very clear that no option should be taken off the table.
Given the recent deployment of some of Britain’s minesweepers to the strait of Hormuz, does the Secretary of State agree that the clearing of mines in international waterways is a necessary but passive action, which should not be seen as a hostile act by Iran or any other country?
To be clear, there has not been a recent deployment. The UK has minesweepers deployed in the Gulf—they have been there for some time, and I expect them to remain there. The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. Keeping the strait of Hormuz open is a passive action in the interests of the international community, and should not be regarded as a war-like action by anybody.