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British Defense Chief: We Take Rouhani Threat Seriously

Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. FILE PHOTO

Responding to Iranian president’s recent remarks that European soldiers could be in danger in the Middle East, the U.K. Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace has said that Britain would take the threat seriously.

"Today, the American soldier is in danger, tomorrow the European soldiers could be in danger [in the Middle East]," Hassan Rouhani warned on Wednesday, January 15.

The Islamic Republic fired missiles at two American bases in Iraq last week in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed one of its top general, but smaller, unprovoked attacks by Iran’s proxies on bases housing Americans have been a regular occurrence in recent months.

But now Iran is angry that the U.K., France and Germany have decided to trigger a dispute mechanism related to the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA). This was in response to Iran reducing its commitment and enriching more uranium. Europe’s step can lead to renewal of international sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, January 16, the U.K. Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace insisted that the JCPOA still could be salvaged.

"We want the JCPOA to succeed, and we don't think it is finished. We think there's still life in it. Though we also want Iran to play its full part, as a civilized nation in the world, and to do that, it must address some of its other behavior," Wallace asserted.

Responding to Rouhani's threat, Wallace noted, "We would take all that seriously whoever it may come from. The United Kingdom will do what it has to do to protect both itself and its allies in the theater and further afield. We take statements like that by President Rouhani seriously."

However, U.K. Defense Secretary maintained that the only way to de-escalate the situation is addressing the fears of all parties.

"The way to de-escalate is for all the sides to come together, talk about these, address each other's fears, such as the JCPOA, such as American fears that where some of that money is going to be spent. At the end of the day, it is de-escalation that we look forward to; we are not looking for rhetoric," he reiterated.

In the meantime, France has insisted that the only way to address "Iran's crisis," is comprehensive negotiation with the U.S., including the future of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program after 2025, its policies in the region and Tehran's missile program .

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also supports President Donald Trump’s policy of negotiating a comprehensive deal with Iran.

Washington has repeatedly pointed out that its maximum pressure on Tehran would go on until the Islamic Republic relents and returns to the negotiating table.