How war decision could be reached

It may soon be decision time on war in the Middle East - a war which could follow an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities designed to stop any plans they might have to develop a nuclear bomb.

The consequences of any war are incalculable.

But so too are the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran, which calls Israel a 'cancerous growth that should be cut off' - and which is also the sworn enemy of Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Even a Cold War in the Middle East could pose huge dangers.

Critics say this all sounds a lot like the debate a decade ago over Iraq - which, they say, led to an illegal war based on faulty intelligence. Iran, they argue, should be allowed to do exactly what it says it is doing - developing not nuclear weapons but peaceful nuclear power. Just as with Iraq they insist there is no evidence that Iran is developing WMD.

Tonight on BBC radio 4 in a new series of Decision Time - which examines issues which could face any government, of any political colour, at this time - I discuss how decisions designed to prevent war in the Middle East might be taken here and in the United States with Sir Nigel Sheinwald, a former Ambassador to Washington who, before that, was Tony Blair's foreign and defence policy adviser; Baroness Symons - the former Labour Foreign Office Minister and Middle East envoy who maintains close contacts in the region; Peter Jenkins - a former British ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency - IAEA - in Vienna who believes that all this talk is based on the false premise that Iran has malign intentions; James Steinberg, former deputy Secretary of State in President Obama's government, and before that Deputy National Security Adviser in Bill Clinton's White House and Bronwen Maddox, Editor of Prospect magazine and previously Foreign Editor of The Times.

Decision Time can be heard on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm.