Admiral Lord West – formerly the most senior officer in the Royal Navy – said it would be “very difficult” for Britain to stay out of a fresh conflict in the Middle East .
The Royal Navy hero said Britain and the US are “joined at the hip” militarily the region – and are also perceived as being absolutely interlinked by Iran.
He explained Iran views the US as the “Great Satan” and the UK as the “Little Satan”.
Iran sees both Britain and America in the “same box” – and the actions of one is almost always linked to the other.
The former First Sea Lord told Daily Star Online: “We have to make sure our military in region are ready and the British people are aware of the risk.”
Pictures from protests in Iran already shown British flags being burned alongside the Stars and Stripes.
War fears are now raging after Trump ordered an airstrike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani was accused of plotting attacks on US forces in the Middle East in his role as head of the so-called Quds Force.
His assassination came following the storming of the US Embassy by an Iran-linked militia.
Tehran has pledged to respond, and the world is waiting as tensions teeter on a knife edge.
Admiral Lord West told Daily Star Online: “It will be very difficult for us not to get involved.
“And the sad thing is if we somehow didn’t get involved, the Iranians wouldn’t believe we weren’t.”
He added: “It is highly dangerous. Britain has got to be very careful because we are seen in the same box as the Americans.
“An attack on us [by Iran] is seen as pretty good and not just second best to the Americans.”
He added he hoped the US have briefed Britain on what has happened so we can establish a working relationship amid the unfolding crisis.
Admiral Lord West said Britain should remain “calm” and try to avoid getting involved if the US opt for a campaign of selective strikes.
“But there will come a stage where we have to get involved if it becomes a more general war,” Admiral Lord West explained.
“Because the Iranians will assume we are part of what the Americans do.”
The Royal Navy hero – who was the last man aboard HMS Ardent when it was sunk during the Falklands War – previously warned against war saying it require millions of men to invade Iran .
And he said nothing short of full ground invasion and total occupation could successfully defeat Iran, with any other option leaving the damaged country as a “festering sore” which would later lash out at the West.
However, he dismissed these are totally unrealistic – comparing it to the invasion of Germany in World War 2 and saying the US would have to go onto a “war footing”.
Britain announced yesterday Royal Navy vessels will resume escort duty in the Strait of Hormuz amid fears of attacks on tankers.
Admiral Lord West explained that the seizures of shipping, or even the laying of mines in the Strait could be a response to the killing of Soleimani by Iran.
He described the regime as “desperate” to capture British sailors during the tanker crisis that unfolded during the summer.
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And he added Iran could also continue launching proxy attacks using the terrorist organisations the regime has links with through the so-called Quds Force.
Iran has yet to launch a direct response to the US amid various threats of “harsh revenge” and “vengeance” – which have been responded to furiously by Trump.
Trump issued a stark warning to Iran, threatening to hit dozens of targets “very fast and very hard” if it retaliates.
In unusually specific language, Mr Trump tweeted that his administration had already targeted 52 Iranian sites, “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”
“Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently hundreds of Iranian protesters,” the president tweeted.
“He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years.”
Mr Trump also warned: “The USA wants no more threats!”
Britain’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab defended the US as he accused accused hardliners in Tehran of “nefarious behaviour”.
He described Soleimani as a “regional menace” and said Trump’s nation has the “right of self defence”.
But he called for the pursuit of a diplomatic route came as Iran accused Trump of breaching international law in authorising the fatal drone strike.
The Foreign Secretary also defended Boris Johnson, saying he has been in “constant contact” with the Prime Minister who remained “in charge” throughout his Caribbean holiday during the crisis.
Raab, who is due to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Thursday, said he has been in contact with the Iraqi prime minister and president and will be speaking to Iran’s foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Trump of having “committed grave breaches” of international law with the killing.
He also accused of him threatening to commit a “war crime” by targeting cultural sites in Iran.
“Whether kicking or screaming, end of US malign presence in West Asia has begun,” Mr Zarif tweeted.
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Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry accused the PM of dismissing her concerns that Trump was heading down a dangerous path by working to tear up the nuclear treaty with Iran.
With the US sending 3,000 extra troops to Kuwait, she warned of a “lurch towards war” arising from the president’s “reckless” decision to kill the general who masterminded Iran’s regional security strategy.
Johnson is due back in Downing Street today as he returns home from the private island of Mustique where he celebrated the New Year with his partner Carrie Symonds.
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