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Cameron gets tough on Iran as he vows to tackle 'malign influence' of Islamic dictatorship
23 December 2023, 22:32 | Updated: 23 December 2023, 22:38
Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has warned that the UK will be tough on Iran as it seeks to tackle the state's malign influence on geopolitics.
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The Foreign Secretary said the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have targeted cargo vessels using the busy trade route, were just one of the groups backed by Iran, including Hamas.
The former prime minister told The Telegraph that Iran must be sent "an incredibly clear message that this escalation will not be tolerated".
Further incidents involving ships in the Red Sea were reported on Saturday.
Lord Cameron said: "Iran is a thoroughly malign influence in the region and in the world - there's no doubt about that.
"You've got the Houthis, you've got Hezbollah, you've got the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that have actually been attacking British and American bases, troops.
"And, of course, Hamas. So you've got all of these proxies, and I think it's incredibly important that, first of all, Iran receives an incredibly clear message that this escalation will not be tolerated.
"Second of all, we need to work with our allies to develop a really strong set of deterrent measures against Iran, and it's important that we do that.
"The level of danger and insecurity in the world is at an extremely high level compared with previous years and decades, and the Iran threat is a part of that picture."
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), a Royal Navy initiative which provides information on security incidents to shipping operators, highlighted a series of attacks on Saturday.
There were multiple reports of a drone flying low above a vessel before exploding around 1.5 nautical miles away from it, with the incident taking place around 50 nautical miles off the Yemeni coast.
Another incident took place around 200 miles south west of Veraval, India - well beyond the Red Sea which has been the focus of attacks on shipping.
Lord Cameron's comments followed a visit to the Middle East which saw him discuss the situation in the Red Sea with his Egyptian counterpart.
Royal Navy warship HMS Diamond has already joined an international operation to protect cargo vessels and Lord Cameron hinted at potentially greater British involvement in the coalition.
If the Red Sea is too dangerous for shipping, vessels travelling between Asia and Europe will be forced to detour around the southern tip of Africa rather than use the Suez Canal, adding costs.
Some shipping companies and oil giant BP have already rerouted vessels away from the area.