Russia Fears ‘Nuclear Arms Race’

March 20, 2012  

Russia warned Tuesday that Iran would have no option but to develop nuclear weapons if it came under attack from either the United States or Israel.

“The CIA and other US officials admit they now have no information about the Iranian leadership taking the political decision to produce nuclear weapons,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Moscow’s Kommersant FM radio.

“But I am almost certain that such a decision will surely be taken after (any) strikes on Iran,” Lavrov said.

Moscow has close military and commercial ties with Tehran, and has only grudgingly backed four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over Iran’s suspected bid for nuclear weapons.

Lavrov argued Russia was not defending an ally, but trying to avert a broader conflict or possible nuclear arms race from breaking out in the region.

He also strongly criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for repeatedly threatening to destroy Israel.

“This is completely unacceptable… and we categorically condemn it,” Lavrov said. “It is simply uncivilized and unworthy of a country as ancient as Iran.”

Russian forces have increased their state of alert as an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facility appears increasingly imminent. Moscow fears a strike on Iran could lead to a regional war and destabilize its Central Asian border regions.

Lavrov’s remarks come ahead of expected nuclear talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Last week, Iran for the first time hinted it would consider suspending its uranium enrichment program – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avert a strike – in exchange for Western assistance with its civilian nuclear activities.

Tehran also signaled it would allow “permanent human monitoring” of its nuclear sites.

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