http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2026524,00.html Any military action against Iran's atomic programme is likely to backfire and accelerate Tehran's development of a nuclear bomb, a report today by a British former nuclear weapons scientist warns. In his report, Frank Barnaby argues that air strikes, reportedly being contemplated as an option by the White House, would strengthen the hand of Iranian hardliners, unite the Iranian population behind a bomb, and would almost certainly trigger an underground crash programme to build a small number of warheads as quickly as possible. "As soon as you start bombing you unite the population behind the government," Dr Barnaby told The Guardian. "Right now in Iran, there are different opinions about all this, but after an attack you would have a united people and a united scientific community." In a foreword Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector at the time of the Iraq war, argues that an assault in Iran could turn out to be every bit as disastrous. "In the case of Iraq, the armed action launched aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction - that did not exist. It led to tragedy and regional turmoil. In the case of Iran armed action would be aimed at intentions - that may or may not exist. However, the same result - tragedy and regional turmoil - would inevitably follow," Dr Blix wrote.