Britain is considering stationing warplanes in the Persian Gulf as the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program continues amid rising tension in the region, Britain's The Independent reported Friday.
Prime Minister David Cameron is set reach a decision after holding further talks with the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. An announcement is expected to be made in the near future.
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The report noted that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is currently in London, is “fully aware” and supportive of the discussions.
According to the report, UK military commanders are looking at the possibility of sending British jets to a base in Abu Dhabi which is currently being used by American and French forces as a confidence building measure but also, crucially, in case there are attempts by the Iranians to block the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway through which 40% of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.
One senior British officer said: “We do not think there is any need for military action at the moment. But we are considering all eventualities and where the UK should position itself.
"The decision on deployment will be made on mutual interest and growing interdependence between the UK and the UAE in the long-term.”
It has not yet been decided which country would pay for the Typhoons’ presence, the report stated. However, the UAE government picks up the operational costs for the French, which has been variously estimated to be between €20 million and €45 million per year.
Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a statement: "The UK regularly deploys Typhoon to UAE as part of our routine exercise program and to demonstrate our military commitment to UAE and the security of the wider region.
"We have a mutual interest with our GCC (Gulf) partners in ensuring peace and stability in the region, and exercises such as this allow us to practice working together."
It was further added, "These deployments are not due to our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. As we continue to make clear, the Government does not believe military action against Iran is the right course of action at this time, although no option is off the table."
Last week, Cameron's spokeswoman said that the UK is against a strike in Iran at this point and is waiting to see the sanctions' effect.
Nevertheless, British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond on Thursday said that European nations must be prepared to "take a bigger role in relation to North Africa and the Middle East."
Earlier this week Barak told the Daily Telegraph that Iran appears to have pulled back from proceeding full-steam to acquire nuclear weapons and delayed the moment it could have built a bomb by eight to 10 months.
“We would love to wake up one morning and learn, against my expectations, that the ayatollahs gave it up. I don’t believe it will happen,” he said.
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