The West should assume the Islamic Republic will be nuclear-armed by 2012 and act in accordance with that timetable, the Defence Secretary has said. In the House of Commons, Dr Fox was asked about the assessment of Meir Dagan, the former Israeli intelligence chief, that Iran will be unable to develop a working nuclear weapon until 2015. Dr Fox, a hawk who has repeatedly raised public concerns about Irans nuclear programme, told MPs that he thought Mr Dagans assessment could be too optimistic. Instead, the West should plan on the basis that Tehran is much closer to developing a working nuclear weapon, he said. We know from previous experience, not least from what happened in North Korea, that the international community can be caught out, assuming that things are more rosy than they are, Dr Fox said. We should therefore be entirely clear that it is entirely possible that Iran may be on the 2012 end of that spectrum, and act in accordance with that warning."