Robert O’Brien, the US National Security Advisor, has warned the UK over using Huawei for its 5G networks, saying that using the Chinese firm’s technology would put the UK’s intelligence services at risk.
In an interview with the Financial Times, O’Brien said: “They are just going to steal wholesale state secrets, whether they are the UK’s nuclear secrets or secrets from MI6 or MI5.”
He added: “It is somewhat shocking to us that folks in the UK would look at Huawei as some sort of a commercial decision. 5G is a national security decision.”
O’Brien said that people in Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia were starting to understand concerns raised by the US against Huawei.
The US has been pressing nations not to grant Huawei access to 5G networks and alleged that the company’s equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the Chinese firm has repeatedly denied.
In May, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk.
The Trump administration also added Huawei to its trade blacklist in May, citing national security concerns.
The question of whether Huawei’s 5G equipment could contain back doors allowing access to Chinese spying has been dividing countries in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, which includes the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Britain has previously taken a less firm line compared to other countries in the group, indicating Huawei’s 5G products could be used in less sensitive areas.
Earlier in December Telefonica Deutschland, Germany’s second-largest telecoms firm, chose both Huawei and Nokia to build its network.
The move has caused controversy in Germany, with chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition colleagues calling for a harsher clampdown on the firm.