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Russia Cautions Against Strike On Iran Amid Israeli Warnings


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Tensions continued to rise ahead of a report in which the UN atomic watchdog is expected to publish fresh evidence suggesting that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

Tehran has accused Israel and the United States of seeking world support for a military strike on its nuclear facilities, which Russia warned would be "a very serious mistake."

The comments came after Israeli President Shimon Peres said that an attack on Iran was increasingly likely.

Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that diplomacy, not missile strikes, was the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

A military strike against Iran "would be a very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences," he said. "There is no military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem or any other problem in the world today."

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said the United States feared Iran's growing military power because it is now able to compete with Israel and the West.

In an interview with Egypt's state-owned "Al-Akhbar" newspaper published on November 7, he said the threat came as Iran's military capabilities were increasing and warned that "Iran will not allow [anyone] to take any action against it."

IAEA Report Awaited

On November 5, the Israeli president warned in a television interview that an attack on Iran was becoming "more and more likely."

Peres said, "I estimate that intelligence services of all these countries are looking at the ticking clock, warning leaders that there was not much time left.

And in comments published on November 6 by the Israeli "Hayom" daily, Peres said: "The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option.

"We must stay calm and resist pressure so that we can consider every alternative."

The rise in tensions comes as press leaks suggest a report due for release on November 8-9 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna will produce evidence that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear arms capability.

"The report that is due to be released on Tuesday probably won't give new information on the status of Iran's nuclear program," Emily Landau, an expert for arms control and regional security at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told Reuters television.

"But I think that what we are likely to see is a report that will be much tougher in terms of the certainty that is expressed through the report with regards to whether Iran is indeed working on a military nuclear program."

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- have been locked in years-long negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

Demands For More Pressure

Lavrov said that "the only path for removing concerns is to create every possible condition" to resume the talks, which broke down in December last year.

"Military intervention only leads to a multiple rise in casualties and human suffering," Lavrov said. "Any conflict can be solved only according to the principles adopted by the international community in the UN Charter."

In Berlin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman has urged Iran to "once and for all" clear up concerns over its nuclear program.

Andreas Peschke said Germany would call for "greater political and diplomatic pressure" on Iran to comply with international commitments on its nuclear program if the IAEA report reveals further defiance.

Lavrov and Peschke spoke a day after French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe warned against the "destabilizing" consequences of a military attack on Iran.

"We can still strengthen [the sanctions] to put pressure on Iran," Juppe told France's Europe 1 radio. "And we are going to continue along this path because a military intervention could create a totally destabilizing situation in the region."

The UN Security Council has already imposed four rounds of sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium-enrichment activities.

Israel -- and the United States -- has at the same time repeatedly warned of the possibility of military strikes against Iran's nuclear sites.

But Tehran remained defiant, insisting that its nuclear programs are only to generate power for civilian purposes.

compiled from agency reports

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