Britain could be prepared to carry out drone strikes in Afghanistan if the Taliban allows the country to again become a safe haven for terrorists.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace made the hint while visiting a factory where 16 Protector drones are being built for the UK military at a cost of £260 million ($360.97m).
“I’ll do whatever I have to do to protect citizens’ lives and our interests and our allies, when we’re called upon to do so, wherever that may be,” Mr Wallace said, when asked if drone strikes could be an option.
The Taliban rapidly took over Afghanistan’s provincial capitals last month after nearly two decades of conflict with Nato member states.
The West has told the Taliban that they must ensure terrorists are not allowed to freely operate in Afghanistan if the hardline group wants engagement with the international community.
The 9/11 attacks on the US 20 years ago were carried out by Al Qaeda, whose senior leaders were in Afghanistan at the time.
Mr Wallace said the drones are “being acquired to ensure that the UK can continue to intervene militarily overseas without the risk of having troops on the ground”.
“One of the options is to deploy anywhere in the world where there is an imminent threat to life, British life or our allies, where international law enables us to take action,” he said.
Mike Wigston, the head of the UK’s Royal Air Force, said the terrorist threat to the UK remained.
“It is not a matter of whether we are safer or not, it is just recognising violent extremists are out there,” he told Sky News.
“They would do us harm. They are quite willing to commit atrocities on the streets of the UK, and we have got to be ready to tackle them along with our allies.”