Leading opposition politicians are demanding answers from UK ministers on the role played by the Indian Ocean atoll in previous attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, and in any future strikes.
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Last week, the Sunday Herald revealed 387 bunker buster bombs were being shipped to Diego Garcia by the US. Some experts suggested the move could be in preparation for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Although the island is part of British territory, it is used by the US as a military base. Some US air strikes against Iraq in 1991 and 2003, and against Afghanistan since 2001, have come from Diego Garcia. The island has also been used for the extraordinary rendition of suspected terrorists.
“The use of British sovereign territory without restriction is clearly something which causes great concern,” said Sir Menzies Campbell MP, a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and a former Liberal Democrat leader. “The Government has been reluctant to give specific details about the nature of the agreement which governs US occupation. More transparency is unquestionably required.”
The LibDem foreign spokesman, Edward Davey MP, called on the foreign secretary, David Miliband, to make clear whether Diego Garcia was being used by the US to prepare for military action against Iran. “The events relating to this island of shame have damaged Britain’s international reputation,” he said.
The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Last weekend’s Sunday Herald story about the shipment of US bunker busters to Diego Garcia was followed up by scores of media outlets across the world, in the US, Russia, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
One report, from the World Tribune in the US, said the shipment had been originally destined for US bases in Israel. Quoting Congressional sources, it suggested the bunker busters had been diverted to Diego Garcia as part of an unacknowledged embargo on military equipment for Israel.