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UK feared Israeli attack on Iran, reveals former defence chief

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Former chief of the defence staff General David Richards has revealed in his new autobiography that during the early part of the Arab Spring Britain was concerned about an Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear installations.

In an extract from Taking Command, published in The Times,General Richards described how in early 2011 the risk of an Israeli attack was seen to be as high as 40 to 50 per cent.

He believed Israel would carry out a strike in order to provoke American involvement against Iran. This could have led to a war in the Gulf region, with Iran possibly unleashing attacks on countries in the region, such as Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

One extract reads: “The main concern was that the Israelis would have started a war, the consequences of which were hard to calculate or anticipate. We assumed that the Iranians would use every tactic in the book, having reached the conclusion that they would not be able to win in a conventional sense.”

General Richards described how he had to convince the Ministry of Defence to take the threat seriously and begin preparing for war. The General also wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron about his concerns.

Although General Richards said he could not trust the Iranians completely, he believed that, in order to avoid war, an understanding needed to be reached between Iran and the West.

Taking Command will be published on October 9.

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