According to reports in several British papers this morning, Britain’s foreign intelligence chief said Iran would acquire nuclear weapon capability within two years.
MI6 Chief Sir John Sawyers, in only his second public speech since he was appointed to the post in 2009, said that Iran was now “two years away” from becoming a “nuclear weapons state”. He added that British agents had foiled Iran’s attempts to produce a nuclear weapon as long as four years ago, according to the report. “You’d have Iran as a nuclear weapons state in 2008 rather than still being two years away in 2012,” the report quoted Sawyers as saying.
“The Iranians are determinedly going down a path to master all aspects of nuclear weapons; all the technologies they need,” he said. “It’s equally clear that Israel and the United States would face huge dangers if Iran were to become a nuclear weapon state.”
He added that in such a case a military strike would become increasingly likely. “I think it will be very tough for any Prime Minister of Israel or President of the United States to accept a nuclear-armed Iran,” he suggested.
In March, Sir John spoke to more than 20 ministers about the latest intelligence on the growing fear that Israel is poised to launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The MI6 chief was also understood to have warned about the potential threat to Britain from a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Sir John’s first briefing came after Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities might trigger a “new Cold War.”
The Daily Telegraph quoted Hague as saying that “Iran was threatening to spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which could be more dangerous than the original East-West Cold War – as there are not the same ‘safety mechanisms’ in place.
“It is a crisis coming down the tracks,” Hague said. “Because they are clearly continuing their nuclear weapons programme… If they obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons. And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilising effects in the Middle East… And the threat of a new cold war in the Middle East without necessarily all the safety mechanisms – that would be a disaster in world affairs.”