Israel can deal with the Iranian nuclear threat alone if necessary, Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman Minister told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday. In his first appearance before the panel, Lieberman said the government "was doing more than any other country to confront the Iranian nuclear threat."
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"We can face the country even if we're left to face them one-on-one," he said. "I think it would be much better for the world if the international community were to step in."
Lieberman, who returned on Tuesday night from a visit to Russia, said he was heartened by the Russian will to help stop a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
"Everyone realizes that a nuclear arms race would be devastating for this region and they want to prevent it," he said. "I don't want to think about the implications of an arms race, because the situation would be out of control."
Lieberman said it was the responsibility of the international community to stop the Iranian nuclear program, but that neither Israel nor its friends should become "hysterical."
In Moscow, Russia's foreign minister strongly warned Washington not to use force against Iran and criticized what he described as a unilateral US approach to global crises, according to an interview published on Wednesday.
Sergey Lavrov said Russia was worried by recent comments by US Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reaffirmed that "all options are on the table" to prevent Teheran from becoming a nuclear power.
"We are concerned about the possibility of a military scenario," Lavrov was quoted as saying in government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta. "We are observing a US military buildup in the Persian Gulf. Such a buildup of forces always threatens to trigger a military conflict, even by accident."
Russia has repeatedly spoken out against resorting to force to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, and has warned that overly harsh sanctions would be counterproductive.
In December, Russia supported a UN Security Council resolution imposing limited sanctions against Iran over its refusal to stop uranium enrichment, but the support came only after an initial proposal that would have imposed curbs on the nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran was dropped.
Talks on the Iranian nuclear issue were deadlocked because of uncompromising stances taken by the United States and Iran, Lavrov said, according to the report.
"It would be unforgivable to miss a chance to use every opportunity to start such talks because of a false notion of prestige, because of the unyielding stance taken by both parties," he said.
"When they [the US] offer us a unilateral strategy and urge us to express solidarity in combating one or another evil... that's not the behavior of a partner," he said, adding that President Vladimir Putin's harsh criticism of US policy last month expressed an opinion many nations shared but were afraid to express publicly.
Putin told a security conference in Munich the United States "has overstepped its national borders in every way" and accused it of triggering a global arms race.
"Someone had to say it... to show the need for candid talk about how to deal with global affairs," Lavrov said of Putin's speech.
"There are those who cannot say 'No' to the United States. But we can allow ourselves to tell the truth, and not just reject unilateral calls for support but offer concrete constructive alternatives," he said.
AP contributed to this report.