Russia has starkly warned Israel and the United States against attacking Iran, saying Moscow sees no evidence that Tehran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.
“We warn those who are no strangers to military solutions … that this would be harmful, literally disastrous for regional stability,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
An attack on Iran “would set off deep shocks in the security and economic spheres that would reverberate far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East region,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
Russian officials have issued similar warnings in the past, but Ryabkov’s remarks appeared to underscore Moscow’s concern about the possibility that Israel might attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
Heightened Israeli rhetoric about the facilities, which Western powers believe are part of a program to develop a nuclear weapons capability, has stoked speculation that Israel may attack Iran before the U.S. presidential election in November.
Ryabkov said there were no indications of a military nuclear program and suggested monitoring by the U.N. nuclear agency was a strong guarantee.
“We, as before, see no signs that there is a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. No signs,” Interfax quoted Ryabkov – Russia’s point man for diplomacy on Iran’s nuclear programme – as saying.
We, as before, see no signs that there is a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. No signs
“We see something different — that there is nuclear material … in Iran that is under the control of inspectors, specialists of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“This nuclear material is not being shifted to military needs, this is officially confirmed by the (IAEA).”
His remarks appeared to be at odds with mounting concern voiced by the U.N. atomic watchdog about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
The IAEA said last week that Iran had doubled the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges in an underground bunker in a few months, showing it continued to expand its nuclear program despite sanctions and the threat of an Israeli attack. The new machines are not yet operating, it added.
It also said that in the last decade, it had become “increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military related organizations”.