UK foreign minister to criticise Iran on Middle East trip ahead of World Cup match

UK foreign minister to criticise Iran on Middle East trip ahead of World Cup match
2 min read
20 November, 2022
UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly is expected to criticise Iran over its nuclear enrichment and ties to Russia as part of a Middle East tour leading up to the World Cup kick-off.
'Britain is determined to work alongside our friends to counter the Iranian threat,' the British FM will say [source: Getty]

British foreign minister James Cleverly is set to criticise Iran as a destabilising force in the Middle East before watching the English football team take on Tehran's team at the World Cup as part of his regional trip which starts on Saturday, his office said.

Cleverly will also criticise Russia, saying that no country is immune from the impact of the invasion of Ukraine on energy and food prices, and he will commit to working with regional allies to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon.

"Iranian-supplied weapons threaten the entire region. Today Iran's nuclear programme is more advanced than ever before, and the regime has resorted to selling Russia the armed drones that are killing civilians in Ukraine," Cleverly will say at a security conference in Bahrain on Saturday.

"Britain is determined to work alongside our friends to counter the Iranian threat, interdict the smuggling of conventional arms, and prevent the regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."

Talks to revive a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers have been at a stalemate since September, with the United States and its allies objecting to a crackdown on protestors and the sale of drones to Russia.

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Iran denies wanting to acquire nuclear weapons and has said it shipped some drones to Russia before the February invasion of Ukraine but has not continued to supply them.

Cleverly this month summoned Iran's most senior diplomat in Britain over threats to journalists in light of protests sweeping across the country, while the the head of Britain's domestic spy agency said Iranian intelligence services had tried 10 times to kidnap or kill British or UK-based people this year.

After delivering his rebuke, Cleverly will then watch England's first World Cup match in Qatar against Iran on Monday, after attending the tournament's opening ceremony on Sunday.

The foreign ministry did not say if Cleverly would attend Wales' first match, against the United States, later on Monday. 

[Reuters]