Iran Nuclear NewsBlair warns that world faces decision to halt Iran’s...

Blair warns that world faces decision to halt Iran’s nuclear programme

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ImageThe Times: World leaders might have to go to war to stop Iran developing its weapons programme, Tony Blair suggested yesterday.

The Times

Philip Webster

ImageWorld leaders might have to go to war to stop Iran developing its weapons programme, Tony Blair suggested yesterday.

The former Prime Minister, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, said that Tehran’s actions had made him more afraid today that a rogue state could supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorists than he was when he took Britain to war with Iraq in 2003.

He warned that world leaders, including the British Prime Minister, now faced the same kinds of decision about the dangers posed by repressive regimes as he did seven years ago.

“My judgment — and it may be other people don’t take this view, and that’s for the leaders of today to make their judgment — is we don’t take any risks with this issue,” he said.

The former Prime Minister raised concerns about Tehran’s links with terrorist organisations.

Mr Blair said: “My fear was — and I would say I hold this fear stronger today than I did back then as a result of what Iran particularly today is doing — my fear is that states that are highly repressive or failed, the danger of a WMD link is that they become porous, they construct all sorts of different alliances with people.”

Mr Blair said that there had been extensive planning for the aftermath of the invasion, but said that there had been a failure to foresee the role played by al-Qaeda and Iran in fomenting the insurgency that broke out.

“The real problem is that our focus was on the issues that in the end were not the issues that caused us the difficulty,” he said.

“People didn’t think that al-Qaeda and Iran would play the role that they did. It was really the external elements of al-Qaeda and Iran that really caused this mission very nearly to fail.”

The former Prime Minister raised the spectre of Iraq and Iran competing to develop nuclear weapons and to fund terror groups if Saddam Hussein had not been removed.

Mr Blair said: “I have little doubt myself — but it’s a judgment, and other people may take a different judgment — that today we would be facing a situation where Iraq was competing with Iran, competing both on nuclear weapons capability and competing more importantly perhaps than anything else, competing as well as the nuclear issue in respect of support of terrorist groups.”

Mr Blair said that Iran’s postwar efforts to destabilise Iraq showed that the regime had no interest in co-operating and could not be trusted.

“One of the most disappointing, but also I think the most telling aspects of this, is that the Iranians, whatever they said from the beginning, were a major destabilising factor in this situation and quite deliberately.

“People didn’t believe you would be in a situation where Iran having the threat of Saddam removed would try to destabilise the country. But that is what they did.

“A very strong lesson of this for me was that we tried with the Iranians … the Iranians, whatever they said from the beginning, were a major destabilising factor in this.”

In a further hint that he believes others may have to follow him and President Bush in going to war, Mr Blair said: “When we get into a nation-building situation in the future we will be far better informed.”

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