Dominic Raab defends US over killing of 'regional menace' General Soleimani

5 January 2020, 11:39

Dominic Raab defended the US over the killing of General Qassem Soleimani
Dominic Raab defended the US over the killing of General Qassem Soleimani. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has defended the US over its killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, branding the military commander a “regional menace.”

The Conservative MP accused hardliners in Tehran of "nefarious behaviour" and said the United States has the "right of self defence" in an interview on Sunday.

But his call for the pursuit of a diplomatic route came as Iran accused Donald Trump of breaching international law in authorising the fatal drone strike, which has created an escalating crisis and sparked fears of all-out war.

Mr Raab declined to say the US President was right in his actions but claimed the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, who was killed in Iraq on Friday, was destabilising the Middle East and "attacking Western countries".

Late on Saturday, President Trump threatened to bomb 52 sites in Iran if Tehran retaliates to the strike.

He also defended Boris Johnson, saying he has been in "constant contact" with the Prime Minister who remained "in charge" throughout his Caribbean holiday during the crisis.

Mr Raab told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "The US will take their own operational judgment call but they've got the right of self defence.

"So we understand the position the US were in and I don't think we should be naive about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or indeed General Soleimani."

The Foreign Secretary said the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian mother jailed in Iran, remained "at the forefront of my mind" and accused hardliners in Tehran of "nefarious behaviour" and not complying with international law.

But he urged a diplomatic route to be pursued to allow "Iran to come in from the international cold".

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry accused the PM of dismissing her concerns that Mr Trump was heading down a dangerous path by working to tear up the nuclear treaty with Iran.

Mr Johnson is due back in Downing Street on Sunday as he returned home from the private island of Mustique where he celebrated the New Year with his partner Carrie Symonds.

But he was to face a spiralling diplomatic crisis and growing criticism for failing to issue a statement over the air strike.

Outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "Boris Johnson should have immediately cut short his holiday to deal with an issue that could have grave consequences for the UK and the world."

Acting Lib Dem co-leader Sir Ed Davey said Mr Johnson's "silence on Trump's dangerous assassination in Iraq is deafening".

On Sunday, Ms Thornberry accused the PM of having "other preoccupations" as he was "sunning himself" while Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill chaired Cobra meetings.