Russia says attacking Iran would be "disastrous" - Ifax
MOSCOW - Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. EPA PhotoRussia warned Israel and other nations not to attack Iran over its nuclear programme, 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.
Russia: no sign Iran developing nuclear arms -Ifax
Russia sees no evidence that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at developing weapons, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Thursday.
Russian officials have made similar statements in the past, but Ryabkov's remarks appeared to underscore Moscow's concerns about the possibility Israel could launch attacks targeting Iranian nuclear facilities.
Many in the West believe the facilities are part of a programme to develop nuclear weapons.
While Russia is a partner of the United States and four other powers in diplomatic efforts aimed as ensuring Tehran does not acquire nuclear weapons, it says the West is undermining those efforts by hitting Iran with too many sanctions.
"We, as before, see no signs that there is a military dimension to Iran's nuclear programme. No signs," Interfax quoted Ryabkov - Russia's point man for diplomacy on Iran's nuclear programme - as saying.
"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)."
Heightened Israeli rhetoric about the nuclear facilities has stoked speculation that it may attack Iran before the U.S. presidential election in November.
The IAEA said last week that Iran had doubled the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges it has in an underground bunker in a few months, showing it continued to expand its nuclear programme despite sanctions and the threat of an Israeli attack.
Russia has warned Israel and the United States against attacking Iran and said it opposes pressuring Tehran with further sanctions beyond the measures approved in four U.N. Security Council resolutions, the most recent in 2010.