Britain plans to beef up its military presence in the Gulf region as an international stand-off continues with Tehran over its nuclear program, according to UK’s daily The Sun.
The move follows a decision by the European Union (EU) and the US to impose sanctions on Iran's oil, a move that comes into effect in July.
The Sun quoted a senior Whitehall official as saying that a conflict was “inevitable” and said the UK was ready to dispatch troops to the region to bolster its allies here.
“Britain would be sucked in whether we like it or not, probably via Iranian attacks on our Forces in Afghanistan next door to them. We also have some very important allies in the region and we stand ready to help them with troops.”
The newspaper claimed the UK had at least one nuclear submarine standing by and estimated there could be conflict within 18 to 24 months, prompting an increased British Military presence in the GCC.
“The UK will first fly an infantry battalion to the UAE,” said the report.
“The move would be a public show of support, demonstrating that Britain is ready to defend the UAE if it comes under attack from Iran. The UAE is separated from Iran by just 34 miles of sea across the Strait of Hormuz. Further troops could follow if other allies Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar ask for help.”
The Sun added the UK had already beefed up its Naval Forces in the region and had 7 warships in the Gulf.
“HMS Daring, one of its newest and most powerful destroyers, arrived in the region in January to join Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll,” it said.
“Minesweepers Pembroke, Quora, Middleton and Ramsey are based in Bahrain and a nuclear submarine is lurking in the area.”
Another submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles would be commissioned to the area, as well as extra aircraft, it added.
“The RAF would send Typhoon and Tornado Jets to reinforce helicopter and transport plane crews already stationed in Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the UAE,” it said.
The report said Israeli airstrikes on Iran's nuclear facilities were considered the most likely event to trigger conflict.
Source: The Sun; Photo: AFP/Getty