Iran could trigger ‘new cold war’, says Hague

If Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability, it will be a disaster in world affairs, warns the foreign secretary

Iran’s nuclear programme risks plunging the world into “a new cold war” that would be without the “safety mechanisms” of the old rivalry between the west and the USSR, according to the foreign secretary, William Hague.

He said that Iran was clearly continuing to pursue a nuclear weapons programme and warned that this would trigger an arms race among rival Middle Eastern states, who, he claimed, would also want to develop nuclear weapons.

Using some of the gravest language to come from a member of the British government since fears started to grow about a military confrontation with Iran, Hague claimed: “It is a crisis coming down the tracks, because [Iran] 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,” he said in an interview the Daily Telegraph.

“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.”

Hague made the comments at a time when officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.

The foreign secretary stressed that “all options must remain on the table” concerning Iran, but said that a military attack would have “enormous downsides”.

“We are very clear to all concerned that we are not advocating military action,” said Hague, who added that the British government had urged Israel not to carry out a strike against Iran.

“We support a twin-track strategy of sanctions and pressure and negotiations on the other hand. “We are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at the moment.”

Hague also said that Britain would “have to be concerned” that it could be in range of Iranian nuclear weapons or that nuclear materials could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Referring to the killings of several nuclear scientists in Iran, he said that Britain was not taking part in any “secret war”, adding: “It is not our way of dealing with this to have assassinations or to advocate military action. Although I do stress again, we are taking nothing off the table.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

from Ben Quinn


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