Russia warns West against Iran strike
MOSCOW / JERUSALEM
US Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Winnefeld visits Israel. EPA photoRussia has starkly warned Israel and the U.S. against attacking Iran, saying Moscow sees no evidence that Tehran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons.
“We warn those who are no strangers to military solutions ... that this would be harmful, literally disastrous for regional stability,” Interfax quoted Russian 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 added. His words came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said an Israeli attack on Iran would cause an apocalypse in the entire region, in a recent interview with CNN International.
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.
Secret visit from top US official
“We, as before, see no signs that there is a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. No signs,” Ryabkov said. “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 Agency” he added. Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James Winnefeld, held talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak yesterday.
A statement from the ministry containing pictures and a video of the two said that Winnefeld met Barak in his Tel Aviv office, without providing details on the meeting.
Earlier yesterday, army radio reported that the “secret” meeting was to take place, with the Israeli military refusing to confirm. According to the report, Winnefeld was in the country at the invitation of his counterpart, Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Naveh.
Army radio said the visit had been kept under wraps because of political sensitivities between Israel and Washington over how to handle Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, which both governments suspect are an attempt to develop a weapons capability.