Despite British undercover operations in 2008 to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the Islamic Republic is now only two years away from having the bomb, London spy chief John Sawers said recently, according to an article in the Daily Telegraph.
Sawers spoke at a recent forum in London, in only his second public speech since assuming the leadership of MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence service, in 2009.
He stated categorically that Iran was attempting to develop nuclear weapons technology. “The Iranians are determinedly going down a path to master all aspects of nuclear weapons; all the technologies they need,” Sawers 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.
Without MI6, Sawers asserted, “you’d have Iran as a nuclear weapon state in 2008,” while today Iran is “still two years away in 2012″ from having such a capability.
MI6 had “run a series of operations to ensure that the sanctions introduced internationally are implemented, and that we do everything we can within the Middle East to slow down these remaining problems,” he said. He did not specify what MI6 had done. Britain and the US have denied assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists. Iran has also blamed the West for other sabotage operations and computer viruses that have set back its program.
He said that it was up to MI6 to “delay that awful moment” where a world leader had to decide between ordering a military strike on the Islamic Republic or accepting a nuclear-armed Iran, adding that “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.”
The Iranian nuclear weapon issue has dominated headlines and international diplomacy for much of this year. Ever-more severe sanctions against Tehran, and three high-level diplomatic meetings between Iran and the P5+1 powers (China, France, the US, Germany, Russia and the UK), have proved inconclusive in resolving the issue.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
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