Russia warns Israel not to attack Iran
Russia warned Israel and other nations not to attack Iran over its nuclear program, saying the use of force would be disastrous for the Middle East and have consequences far beyond the region, 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 and would set off deep shocks in the security and economic spheres that would reverberate far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East region,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
Israel is said to have stepped up plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which it fears is designed to produce nuclear weapons.
Iran denies the charge, and insists its program is entirely for peaceful purposes.
Russia backed the Iranian argument on Thursday, with Ryabkov saying that there was no evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons.
Russian officials have made similar statements in the past, but Ryabkov’s blunt remark appeared to underscore Moscow’s concerns about the possibility Israel could launch a military strike.
“We, as before, see no signs that there is a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. No signs,” Interfax quoted Ryabkov as saying.
Moscow’s stance is at odds with Western powers, who have unilaterally imposed punitive sanctions on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear program.
Tehran says it has a right to produce nuclear energy, and has accused the West of double standards for its silence over Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
Israel is the sole nuclear power in the Middle East and has avoided international scrutiny, despite Arab calls for a nuclear-free region.
Russia’s comments come a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a security cabinet meeting over Iran after details of an initial meeting were leaked to the press.
Israeli media reported serious disagreement among the Jewish state’s top intelligence and military brass, with several high ranking officials said to be opposed to a war with Iran.