Press Association: Failure to halt Iran’s ambitions to develop a nuclear bomb could lead other countries in the region to acquire nuclear weapons of their own, a leading international affairs think tank has warned. Press Association
Failure to halt Iran’s ambitions to develop a nuclear bomb could lead other countries in the region to acquire nuclear weapons of their own, a leading international affairs think tank has warned.
Dr John Chipman, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said Turkey and Saudi Arabia could be among the countries that would “reconsider their options” if Tehran succeeded in building a bomb.
His comments, at the launch of the IISS’s annual Military Balance report for 2005/06, came after Prime mInister Tony Blair warned on Monday night that life for the Islamic republic could become “a lot more difficult” if it continued to defy the international community.
The IISS report said it now appeared “unlikely” that diplomatic efforts by the EU3 of Britain, France and Germany to persuade Iran to give up its uranium enrichment programme – a key stage in developing a weapon – would succeed.
Dr Chipman said it was now essential that other countries joined in the international pressure on Iran.
“It would be desirable for regional states, especially the Gulf Arab states, also to express more openly their concerns about how Iran’s possible acquisition of a nuclear capacity would change strategic perceptions and the regional balance of power,” he said.
With Iran still thought to be a decade away from acquiring a nuclear weapon, he said there was still time for diplomacy to succeed.
The next step could be a referral by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) – the world nuclear watchdog – to the United Nations Security Council, which in turn could impose sanctions.
Such a move has so far been opposed by Russia, China and India amid fears that it could begin “a slippery slide down the road to war”.
Dr Chipman said that could change if IAEA director general Mohammed El Baradei was able to present evidence on the development of Iran’s Shahab-3 missile which has “a payload ideally suited to a nuclear weapon”.