Iran

NATO Chief Warns Iran Against Provocation Amid Gulf Tensions

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the US briefed the alliance on the air strike which killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

NATO's Secretary General has warned Iran against provocation amid tensions in the Gulf.

Jens Stoltenberg said US officials briefed the alliance on the rationale behind the air strike which assassinated top Iranian General, Qassem Soleimani.

Mr Stoltenberg said: "We value and appreciate the briefings provided by the United States.

"I think this provides, or once again shows that NATO is a platform where European allies, North American allies are able to come together and address security concerns for all of us."

He went on to say the alliance is united in condemning Iranian support for terrorist groups and expressed concern for the nation's destabilising activities in the wider Middle East region.

The NATO chief said allies agree Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon, and share concern over its missile tests.

Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US airstrike on Friday 3 January (Picture: PA).

Mr Stoltenberg said Gulf tensions have been escalating for some time, citing the strike on a Saudi energy facility in September, and the shooting down of an American drone.

The Secretary General said allies called for restraint at Monday's NATO meeting, adding: "A new conflict would be in no one's interest."

He also said NATO is determined to return to its mission in Iraq, and training local forces to guard against a possible return of Islamic State, once the situation allows.

It comes after the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to expel foreign troops, including British military personnel, from the country.

Downing Street says Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister of Iraq, Adel Abdul Mahdi, have agreed to work to find a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis.

A meeting was held at Number 10, attended by the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, at which discussions took place regarding deployment of UK warships to the Strait of Hormuz.

Earlier, Mr Johnson, and the leaders of France and Germany, released a joint statement calling for an easing of tensions in the region.

Efforts to ease tensions come alongside warnings from President Trump threatened to retaliate "perhaps in a disproportionate manner" if Iran strikes a US citizen or target.

The US leader warned that 52 Iranian targets could be hit "very fast and very hard", including "some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture".

Cover image: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Picture: NATO TV).