More on this story. If nothing changes, there will be more hand-wringing at the U.N., another incremental increase in sanctions accompanying another resolution, and the process will repeat itself until we awaken one morning to word of an Iranian nuclear test. “Iran ‘carrying out secret nuclear missile tests’,” by James Kirkup for the Telegraph, June 29:
The claim comes as the Iranian regime mounts a visible show of its military technology with 10 days of missile tests. One tested this week was capable of reaching Israel or the Gulf states.
Mr Hague told the Commons that Iran “has been carrying out covert ballistic missile tests and rocket launches, including testing missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload”.
Those tests were in clear contravention of United Nations Security Council resolutions forbidding Iran from developing a military nuclear programme, he said.British officials said that the nuclear tests took place separately from the current, publicly declared tests.
Britain believes that since last October, Iranian forces have carried out three secret tests of missiles that could be used to carry nuclear material.
Britain has reported those tests to the United Nations, but has not previously made them public.
Iran has an active nuclear programme, which it insists is entirely for civilian energy use. But Western governments say that it is trying to develop enriched uranium, which would be required to construct a nuclear warhead.
Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has suggested that Iran could be in possession of a viable nuclear weapon as soon as next year, although most experts believe it could take longer. Mr Hague’s claim will fuel speculation that Tehran is stepping up its nuclear weapons programme amid growing concern about the so-called “Arab Spring” which is challenging authoritarian regimes across the Middle East. So far, the Iranian regime has suppressed pro-democracy protests at home.
The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) last month raised “concern” about possible secret Iranian nuclear weapons development.
The IAEA said Iran was engaged in “high voltage firing and instrumentation for explosives testing over long distances”.
Earlier this month, Mr Hague announced new sanctions against Iran and told MPs: “We will maintain and continue to increase pressure on Iran to negotiate an agreement on their nuclear programme.”
A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry said: “None of the missiles tested by Iran is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.”
The Foreign Office stood by Mr Hague’s claims, accusing Tehran of “provocative acts, directly contrary to Iran’s obligations” under UN Security Council resolutions. UNSCR 1929 specifically prohibited Iran from ballistic missile activity capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, said a Foreign Office spokesman. [...]
Saudi Arabia has threatened to build nuclear weapons if it is established that Iran is close to developing them.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a member of the ruling royal family and senior diplomat, warned that Iran developing nuclear weapon capability “would compel Saudi Arabia “¦ to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences”.
Speaking at an unpublicised meeting at RAF Molesworth earlier this month, Prince Turki warned Iran was a “paper tiger with steel claws”.