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MOSCOW, November 10 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia opposes the adoption of new sanctions against Iran, despite the IAEA report to the effect that the Iranian authorities seek to develop nuclear weapons. Alongside this Moscow has warned Israel against making what it described as "a serious mistake" – a clear allusion to the risk of an attack on Iran.
"Any additional sanctions against Iran will be perceived by the international community as a tool of replacing the regime in Tehran," said Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
Earlier, France and the U.S. said they would seek tougher sanctions in the light of the IAEA’s new data.
The IAEA on Tuesday published a new report on the development of Iran's nuclear program. It says that up to 2003 Iran had conducted research into the creation of a nuclear explosive device, and probably it may be still conducting it. In addition, the paper argues that Iran was engaged in undeclared nuclear activities, purchased dual purpose materials and equipment, as well as obtained information related to nuclear weapons development and tested individual components of nuclear explosive devices. In this report there are no references to information sources, and the bulk of the statements relies on guesswork.
According to observers, this is toughest-ever report on Iran’s nuclear program the IAEA has ever authored.
Tehran reacted harshly. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would not depart "one iota" from its nuclear program. He said that the agency was discrediting itself by turning an attentive ear to groundless US allegations Iran was developing nuclear weapons.
In its interpretations of the IAEA report the international community has split up into supporters of taking hard-line urgent measures against Iran and opponents of stepping up pressures on Tehran. The foreign ministers of France and Germany urged tougher sanctions against the Islamic republic.
The Israeli leadership is even more radical than the U.S. and Europe. Much earlier it was even considering a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. On Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that an attack on Iran was more than just a theoretical possibility. He explained that the intelligence services of many countries were saying ever more frequently that Tehran is as close to developing nuclear weapons as it has never been, which in any case should not be allowed.
In turn, Russia and China, which consider the IAEA's report untimely and oppose a new UN SC resolution on Iran, argue that the "strangling sanctions" the West has proposed would definitively bury the hope for a further dialogue between Tehran and the sextet of mediators.
Russia has interpreted the report as a politicized compilation of facts. Moscow is concerned the new IAEA report on Iran's nuclear issue is already being used to undermine the efforts of the international community for an early political and diplomatic settlement of the situation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement placed on its website.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the report contains "no fundamentally new information." It is a compilation of known facts, which was deliberately politicized.
"One cannot but recall the affair of the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which, apparently, was a strong enough lesson against any more manifestations of such indiscretion," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"We see this also as an attempt to deal a blow on Russia's initiatives, which are aimed at promoting the solution of problems on the basis of gradualism and reciprocity," said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
A source of the daily Kommersant at the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "Moscow cannot afford to let the situation around Iran escalate into an open conflict."
"There is only one alternative to diplomatic efforts - a disaster,” it said. “The diplomatic process is complex and lengthy, and sometimes Iran skillfully uses differences inside the IAEA. But in recent years, the situation surrounding its nuclear program has not deteriorated, and there are signs of Tehran's readiness to negotiate."
Indeed, last week Iran's vice-president, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoon Abbasi Davani addressed the IAEA with a written notice of readiness to resume talks within the "sextet". And just before the release of the IAEA report the deputy secretary of Supreme National Security Council, Ali Bagheri, arrived in Moscow on a visit to discuss Russia's initiative for a phased settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.
He discussed the Iranian nuclear program and the IAEA report at his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.
The publication of the IAEA report at this point actually stripped Moscow of a chance to seize initiative in solving the Iranian nuclear problem, Kommersant said.
One of Moscow’s great concerns is the talk about the possibility of Israel's preemptive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
On Monday, President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at a joint news conference with Germany’s President Christian Wulff, in particular, said this: "With regard to belligerent statements to the effect that someone - Israel or anyone else – is prepared to use force against Iran or any other country in the Middle East are very dangerous rhetoric. We understand that passions in the Middle East are white-hot, we understand what sort of position some countries are in now, and that the peace process is deadlocked. Now, if in these circumstances a militaristic wave is raised and someone begins to be threatened, this could trigger very complex consequences, up to a conflict. This can result in a major war. For the Middle East that would be a disaster."
Dmitry Medvedev called for "taking a deep breath, regaining calm and continuing the constructive discussion of all issues."
He declared that Iran's leaders had repeatedly assured him that they were ready to provide proof of their loyalty and to interact with the other participants in the talks. But, despite these assurances, "there is no progress in this direction there," the Russian leader stated.
Russia’s leading specialist on the Middle East, Georgy Mirsky, who is quoted by the e-newspaper Vzglyad, believes that Russia underestimates the seriousness of the Israeli-Iranian conflict.
"It's hard to imagine who might emerge the winner in a war between Iran and Israel. However, when it comes to the question of how to prevent this, we are in a complete deadlock, because the sanctions adopted by the Security Council do not influence the position of Iran."
The only serious sanctions, in his opinion, would be a ban on the export of oil, on which the whole of the Iranian economy depends, and a ban on Iran’s import of gasoline, because in Iran there is much oil but no oil refineries. Russia and China have long made it clear that they will not agree to this.
"The sanctions that there are now, of course, are detrimental to their economy, but, paradoxically, this plays into the Iranian government’s hands, because it allows for mobilizing the patriotic potential of the Iranian people."