The increasingly heated war of words between Iran and the US has reached boiling point, with Tehran threatening again to breach terms of the JCPOA just this week. But one expert said it is unlikely the rivals would open fire against one another, as both sides are aware there is “no military solution”. Naveed S. Sheikh, faculty member at Keele University’s school of social, political and global studies, told Express.co.uk: “The dual US-Iran policy of brinkmanship, however, has its own dynamic. On the one hand, it serves to bolster US support among allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel in particular), while on the other hand Iran’s provocations serve to reassure its allies (Syria and Hezbollah in particular) that Tehran will not be intimidated away from continuing to play a regional leadership role for revisionist or radical actors.
“Overall, thus, there is scope for escalation, both diplomatically and rhetorically, but the parties are ultimately constrained by the realisation that there is no military solution to the vexing geopolitical competition in the Middle East.”
Mr Trump told Tehran this week to be “careful” with making threats, as they could “come to bite you like nobody has been bitten before”.
Following the shooting down of a US drone in late June, Mr Trump revealed he had initially ordered US troops to get ready to launch a strike against a series of Iranian sites.
But he said he withdrew the order only 10 minutes before the deadline after being told “150” people would die as a result – and preferred to issue new hefty economic sanctions against the country’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
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The UK has been so far on Iran’s side, trying alongside with Germany, France and the EU to keep the JCPOA, also known as Iran nuclear deal, alive after Mr Trump pulled out of it in May last year.
However, tensions are running high between London and Tehran as well since the Marines stormed an Iranian tanker off the Gibraltar coast accused of trying to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
This has sparked the fury of Mohsen Rezai, a senior commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, who threatened in a tweet: “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the Iranian authorities duty to seize a British oil tanker.”
But earlier this week, during an interview to Sky News, foreign secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt said “a deal is a deal” when asked if he, as Prime Minister, would join the US in its anti-Iran crusade.
Mr Hunt said Iran was still abiding by the terms of the JCPOA and, for this reason, the UK would not issue any sanctions or drop out of the deal.
Despite Washington’s pressure, Mr Sheikh believes the UK will not rush into a conflict to strengthen the special relationship with the US – even at a time they are trying to strike a free trade deal.
He explained: “The US-UK special relationship is not based on any singular issue but rather reflects shared ideas, culture, history and language.
“Washington understands that, absent an epoch-changing event like 9/11, foreign policy is complex and not down to single issues on which compliance must be sought.
“Just as Washington seeks to calculate and maximise its overall interests, London’s tabulates its own stake.
“The UK and the USA would have overlapping, and sometimes converging, interests but they are never interchangeable and far from identical.
“Moreover, both have precarious domestic situations that mitigate against further pressure towards war.
“A new and untested leadership in Downing Street would not be trusted with another Middle East adventure simply to sustain the special relationship with an American administration that is itself challenged by the newfound determination of the Democrats to seek to end the Trump Presidency, either by impeachment or by election.
“With the Democratic base energised in the primaries and the second term of the Trump administration at stake, it is unlikely that Washington would want to up the ante to seek a fundamental rearrangement of the power balance in the Middle East.
“On both sides of the Atlantic, the memories and wounds of the Iraq War are still fresh.”