Thursday 16 May 2019 - 07:31

UK foreign ministry in ‘crisis mode’ over Iran-US escalation

Story Code : 794541
Britain's foreign minister Jeremy Hunt

The Sky News cited sources from the ministry on Wednesday as saying that London was treating the Iran-US case and the growing tensions between the two countries as a limited crisis, which could get out of control.

“We are going into crisis mode,” said a source, insisting, however, that the situation for the time being was not so serious.

During a crisis mode, a special center is established in the Foreign Office where screens, computers and secure telephone lines can be accessed by staff to keep in touch with embassies and diplomats in the region affected.

The center can be staffed for full 24-hour operations if there is the need for more reports and updates on the situation. The sources told the Sky News that the crisis mode on Iran-US tensions was “pretty light touch” and there was no need for a round-the-clock manning.

A second source claimed that the special circumstances in UK foreign ministry was due to the fact that London had a role to play to mediate between the US and the European Union as the two are increasingly at odds over Iran.

“Prudent steps are being taken to mitigate risk associated with potentially volatile escalation or miscalculation,” said the source, adding that Britain "is caught between [an] expectation from the US to support and a much more leery EU.”

Another source said the foreign office had increased by five times the number of its staff focusing on Iran.

UK is party to an international agreement signed on Iran nuclear activities in 2015. Iran said last week that it had suspended parts of its commitments under the agreement exactly one year after the US government decided to pull out of it.

Iran has set a two-month deadline for the European parties to the deal, including the UK, to try to mend the agreement so that Tehran could benefit from its economic advantages.