President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stoked fears that Iran is preparing to build a bomb by showing footage of its nuclear programme in action (Reuters)

Britain must avoid war with Iran and adopt diplomatic efforts with the country over its nuclear programme, according to a Conservative MP.

John Baron, a former British Army captain and Conservative MP for Basildon and Billericay, told the House of Commons that war in the Middle East is close.

Baron, who is also a member of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, called for a parliamentary debate on ruling out any military intervention in Iran, following rising tensions between the Middle East country and the West.

He was one of only 15 Tory MPs to have voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, even sacrificing a position in the shadow cabinet in protest at the then Conservative leader Iain Duncan-Smith's support for the war.

"Israel is contemplating an air strike and we could be on the brink of a regional war," he said.

"The sanctions and the sabre-rattling are yesterday's failed policies and the fact that we are once again on the brink of military conflict is testament to that failure.

"My motion calls on the government - and, by implication, the West - to rule out the use of force in order to reduce tensions and bring us back from the brink of war and military conflict, and to redouble diplomatic efforts."

The UK must learn lessons from Iraq when it comes to circumstantial evidence and Western intelligence reports over weapons, Baron argued, citing a recent report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency.

Many say this report by UN inspectors points to evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.

"Close reading of the report reveals no smoking gun," Baron said, adding that the West has missed diplomatic opportunities with Iran and it should pursue talks, not military solutions.

"We need a better understanding of what makes Iran tick. We need to better understand the culture, the people, the history, the religion," he said. "We need to renounce the option of a military strike and go the extra mile for peace."

Iran recently revealed footage showing the progress of its nuclear programme, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims is peaceful and for energy, but others say is an attempt to build a bomb.

Sanctions have been placed on the country because of its alleged ambition to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Oil sales to Britain and France from the Iranians have been halted in retaliation.

US warships continue to sail in waters close to Iran, with Iranian boats regularly sailing near the Americans to keep watch.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a strong warning to the world over the Islamic republic.

He said if Iran successfully developed a nuclear weapon, then there would be an arms race in the region and a new Cold War.

"If [Iranians] obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons," Hague told the Daily Telegraph.

"And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilising effects in the Middle East," Hague said, adding that

there is a "crisis coming steadily down the track".