Hague warns of nuclear arms race in Middle East

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THE Middle East will descend into an arms race if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons, MPs were warned last night.

Speaking in a Commons debate, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that if the Tehran regime managed to construct a viable weapon, its neighbours would be forced to build their own nuclear warheads too.

With Israel believed to be considering using its nuclear arsenal to prevent Iran arming, there were already concerns that the situation in one of the most volatile regions in the world could spiral out of control.

Mr Hague said: “If Iran set about the development of nuclear weapons then other nations in the Middle East would do so as well. I therefore do believe there would be a nuclear arms race in the region.”

Mr Hague accused Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of pursuing “confrontational policies” and described the country’s enrichment of uranium in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions as “a crisis coming steadily down the track”.

The Foreign Secretary was speaking in a backbench-led Commons debate where Tory MP John Baron called on MPs to demand the government ruled out using military force against Iran to attack its nuclear sites.

Mr Baron said action would be “counter-productive”, but Mr Hague said ministers needed all options as they pressured Tehran to scrap its programme. He said ruling out force “would increase the likelihood of military conflict in the near term”.