U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain has concluded Iran was responsible for the September 14 attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and will consider taking part in a U.S.-led military effort to bolster the kingdom's defenses.
But Johnson, talking to reporters on the plane to the UN General Assembly in New York, also said Britain will work with allies to 'de-escalate' Mideast tensions.
The Conservative prime minister said that Britain 'is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran' for the attack by drones and cruise missiles.
Iran criticized Johnson's statement, with the Foreign Ministry in Tehran condemning 'fruitless efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran.'
Instead, 'the British government should stop selling lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia' to be used against Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen, ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency.
Middle East tensions have escalated over the attack that the United States and Saudi Arabia have also blamed on Iran, continuing war in Yemen and Syria, and a U.S.-led effort already under way to ensure freedom of navigation in the strategic Straits of Hormuz amid recent Iranian seizures of commercial vessels.
U.S. President Donald Trump on September 20 authorized a "moderate" bolstering of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following the September 14 attack. Johnson said, if asked, his country would 'consider in what way we could be useful.'
Iran has denied involvement in the Saudi bombing and warned the United States that any attack would lead to an 'all-out war.'
In a September 22 speech, Iranian President Hassan Rohani told foreign powers to 'stay away' from the Gulf and suggested their presence was making the region 'the site of an arms race.'
Washington last week imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Iran, including on its central bank and its sovereign-wealth fund.
The top commander for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said on September 21 that his forces have carried out 'war exercises and are ready for any scenario.'
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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