Ahead of her first audience with US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May warned of what she called Iran’s “malign influence,” but urged brokers of the 2015 nuclear deal to engage with the agreement.
May told an audience at a Republican event that Iran is “a priority for the UK too as we support our allies in the Gulf states to push back against Iran’s aggressive efforts to build an arc of influence from Tehran through to the Mediterranean.”
Since diplomatic relations were restored in 2015, May has arguably used the most belligerent rhetoric about the regime in Tehran of any UK leader.
Iran, which has played a major role in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), has seen its influence grow in the Middle East since the US and UK toppled the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.
However, May insists the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, under which Tehran agreed to take measures to allow a degree of international control over its nuclear program, must be respected.
“The agreement must now be very carefully and rigorously policed – and any breaches should be dealt with firmly and immediately.”
Trump, who will meet with May on Friday, has criticized the historic Iran deal and even inferred he would abandon it.
May also commented on UK and US foreign policy more broadly, saying the allies must “stand together” as forces for good in the world, while simultaneously trying to distance themselves from foreign policy blunders.
May insisted the “days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.”
However, she maintained that the two nations must accept the responsibilities of leadership with particular reference to Syria and territory held by IS.
“This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene,” she said.
“We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests,” May said.