Russia warns against attacking Iran

Country's foreign minister says there is no proof of Teheran trying to build nuclear weapons.

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June 20, 2008 14:38
1 minute read.
Russia warns against attacking Iran

sergev Lavrov 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday warned against the use of force on Iran, saying there was no proof it was trying to build nuclear weapons. Lavrov said Iran should be engaged in dialogue and encouraged to cooperate with the UN nuclear monitoring agency. He made the statement when asked to comment on Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz's statement earlier this month that Israel could attack Iran if it does not halt its nuclear program. "I hope the actual actions would be based on international law," Lavrov said. "And international law clearly protects Iran's and anyone else's territorial integrity." The IDF refused to confirm or deny a New York Times report Friday that its warplanes staged a major rehearsal this month for a possible attack on Iran. Lavrov said Russia had asked both the United States and Israel to provide factual information to back their claims that Iran was working to build atomic weapons. "So far we have seen none, and the same conclusion was made by the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said. "It's absolutely not right to speak matter-of-factly that Iran continues building nuclear weapons," Lavrov added. Lavrov insisted that Iran must be encouraged to continue its cooperation with the UN monitoring agency. "As long as the IAEA reports to us progress in its relations with Iran, as long as Iran closes the issues which were of concern to the IAEA and this process continues, we should avoid any steps which could undermine this very important process," he said, speaking in English. Russia has maintained close ties with Iran and is building its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr, which is expected to go on line later this year. It has backed limited UN sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, but has opposed the US push for harsher measures. "The key to resolving the Iranian issue is involvement," Lavrov said. "We must involve Iran, engage Iran in resolving the Iranian nuclear program, ... but also engage Iran in constructive, respectful, serious dialogue on Iraq and Afghanistan, on the Middle East in general."


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