MOSCOW/tehran: Russia warned Israel and the West yesterday against any military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities but suggested Tehran should be quicker to cooperate over inspections of its nuclear sites.
Speaking at his annual news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mixed words of caution over isolating Iran or attacking it with a gentle nudge to Tehran over the inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“Attempts to prepare and implement strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and on its infrastructure as a whole are a very, very dangerous idea. We hope these ideas will not come to fruition,” Lavrov said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted strongly at possible military action to stop Iran from developing an atomic bomb. In an election victory speech yesterday, he said preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons would be the main challenge for a new government. Referring to talks in which the IAEA has been trying to negotiate an agreement for inspectors to gain access to sites, officials and documents, Lavrov said: “The Iranians have said they want this document to be agreed in full. We think our Iranian colleagues could do this a little bit faster.”
Tehran suggests Cairo as venue for talks
Iran has proposed Cairo as the venue for the next nuclear talks with world powers, its foreign minister said yesterday without indicating when the meeting, aimed at defusing a standoff with the West, would happen. “When I was in Egypt ... it was suggested that the next meeting be held in Cairo,” Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News Agency.
“This issue was welcomed by our dear friends in Egypt and Egypt will consult with the P5+1 (group of countries) for hosting this meeting.”
Holding the talks in Egypt could indicate warming ties between Cairo and Tehran, two of the Middle East’s most influential countries.
After decades of frozen relations with former President Hosni Mubarak, Iran has courted his successor, the Islamist Mohammed Mursi, although opposing views on the Syrian civil war have prevented a rapid rapprochement. Salehi visited Cairo for talks with Mursi on January 10.
There was no immediate comment from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents world powers in dealings with Tehran.