UK spy agency MI6 to monitor climate change claims
New head of intelligence service says UK and US are in agreement on Ukraine and talking to Moscow
Britain's foreign intelligence service is taking on climate change as it finds new tasks for its spies, the agency’s new head said in his first interview as “C”.
The chief of the Secret Intelligence Service – commonly known as MI6 – typically signs letters with a "C".
Richard Moore also said Britain had been prepared to stay longer in Afghanistan and had helped face down Russia over Ukraine.
And he revealed MI6 has co-opted the James Bond codename “Q” for the head of its technical department.
“[Climate change is] the foremost international foreign policy agenda item for this country and for the planet," Mr Moore said.
“Of course we have a role in that space. Where people sign up to commitments on climate change, it is perhaps our job to make sure that actually what they are really doing reflects what they have signed up to.”
Mr Moore, 57, declined to say further what was involved in climate change spying.
He is the 17th “C” and the only member of the organisation whose name is made public.
Mr Moore joined MI6 after graduating from the University of Oxford but has also held senior roles in the Foreign Office, including as its political director and ambassador to Turkey.
He was born in Tripoli, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and was a Kennedy Scholar of government at Harvard in the US.
The Sunday Times interview revealed agreement and disagreement with the US.
Over Russia and the build-up of troops on its border with Ukraine, Mr Moore said the two Western powers were in agreement and talking to Moscow.
“The Russians are in absolutely no doubt of where the UK stands on this issue. And they are in absolutely no doubt of where the Biden administration stands on this issue, because channels are open.”
However, Mr Moore said he shared British military and political disquiet at the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
“I am very clear that there is a continuing job to be done in Afghanistan and we will have to find a way to do it,” he said.
“Clearly, when you don’t have the military on the ground alongside you, we will find a way because very clearly we can’t allow Afghanistan to slide back to a situation that we saw in the run-up to 9/11.
“We have definitely picked up intent from groups like Al Qaeda and Daesh in the past to try to find ways of getting hold of CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] capability.
"It reflects the fact that we know they are trying, but so far we have managed to stop them from achieving that.”
Mr Moore also revealed that the head of MI6’s technical department has taken the title “Q” from the Bond films.
“We were reshaping our technical side and couldn’t think of the right name for it.
"In the end we thought, 'well, come on, let’s go for it', and so we decided to call it Q.”
Updated: April 25, 2021 03:08 PM