Hans Blix warns attacking Iran is ‘path to disaster’

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Military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities would be “a path to disaster rather than a solution”, former United Nations weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix has warned.

Dr Blix – who led the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the 2003 war – said it was not “evident” Tehran was seeking nuclear weaponry.

And he warned that there was no imminent threat from Iran that would justify pre-emptive action counter to the UN charter. Dr Blix’s comments came as former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said military action on Iran would “set fire to the Middle East”.

The Lib Dem manifesto for the 2010 election explicitly committed the party to opposing such action, but Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently questioned this stance, saying: “You don’t in a situation like this take any options off the table.”

Concerns over Tehran’s intentions were heightened yesterday by the news Iran has begun loading domestically-made nuclear fuel rods into its research reactor in defiance of sanctions.

But Dr Blix, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it was not yet clear whether western states were correct in accusing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of seeking military capability. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for civil energy use only.

“It is possible – but is denied by Iran and not evident to me – that there is a determination to make a nuclear weapon,” said Dr Blix. He cautioned current IAEA head Yukiya Amano not to jump to conclusions.

“In my view, the agency should not… draw conclusions from information where the supplier is not ready also to show evidence,” he said.