Britain's super spy goes public

Asserting that diplomacy was not enough to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, MI6 chief John Sawers, making an an unprecedented first-ever public appearance, said an intelligence vigil was a must to stop Iran from nuclear proliferation.

The speech by Sawyers, who heads Britain's Secret Intelligence Service -- better known as MI6, indicated a shift for an organisation that until 1992 did not officially exist.

Speaking to academicians and journalists, Sawers said that it was intelligence gathering which had led to Iran's admission last year of having a second nuclear plant.

"Stopping Iran's nuclear proliferation cannot be addressed by conventional diplomacy. We need intelligence operations to make it more difficult for rogue countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons," he said.

The MI chief warned that failures in gathering intentions of Iran could be grim for the rest of the world as pressure had to be kept up to keep Iran away from nuclear weapons.

In his first public speech, Sawers touched on subjects like torture, terrorism, fight against al Qaeda and combating cyber terrorism.

He said it was wrong to cite political issues like Palestine, Kashmir or Iraq as causes for terrorism, advocating that having a more open system of government in these regions would help in overcoming problems if any.

The MI chief described torture as illegal and abhorrent under any circumstances as he replied to a volley of queries on tactics adopted by US in dealing with Guantanamo Bay detainees.

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