The head of the British Secret Service, the MI6, made a secret visit to Israel to urge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to attack Iran, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Sir John Sawers delivered a clear message to Netanyahu that the British Government is opposed to action in Iran.
The Daily Mail noted that it is unusual for the head of MI6 to make a foreign visit as an emissary of the Government.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly become increasingly concerned at the rhetoric from the authorities in Israel, who have been threatening unilateral military action to halt Iran’s nuclear drive.
The report said that British fears about an imminent strike on Iranian nuclear facilities have been heightened by Netanyahu’s failure to provide clear answers to questions about Israel’s intentions.
Sawers is thought to have met Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said the Daily Mail, as well as a number of Israeli security and diplomatic officials.
He reportedly stressed that Britain believes there is still time for diplomatic and economic sanctions against Iran to succeed in deterring its regime from developing a nuclear weapon.
Sawers is thought to have suggested to Netanyahu and Barak that sanctions could be tightened yet further.
Downing Street, the Foreign Office, the British embassy in Israel and Netanyahu’s office refused to comment on the MI6 head’s mission.
On Friday, it was reported that several European Union nations are exploring a new raft of sanctions against Iran as exasperation mounts over blocked talks on the country's contested nuclear program.
The last round of EU sanctions, a damaging oil embargo, came into effect on July 1, adding to U.S. financial sanctions aimed at shutting off Iran's oil exports, which account for half of government revenues.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Tuesday that the United States will have “little more than a year” to respond to Iran should the Islamic Republic decide to build a nuclear weapon,
“It’s roughly about a year right now. A little more than a year. And so … we think we will have the opportunity once we know that they’ve made that decision, [to] take the action necessary to stop [Iran],” Panetta told CBS.
He continued to state that the United States has "pretty good intelligence" on Iran, adding, "We know generally what they're up to. And so we keep a close track on them."