Strike on Iran will be a `catastrophe`, warns Russia

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said today that his country was not even close to deciding to attack Iran.

Moscow: Russia on Wednesday warned that a military
strike on Iran would be a "catastrophe" with the severest
consequences which risked inflaming existing tensions between
Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

"As for the chances of this catastrophe happening, you
would have to ask those constantly mentioning it as an option
that remains on the table," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
said when asked on the chances of military action.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak earlier said in
Jerusalem today that his country was not even close to
deciding to attack Iran and believed that a military option
remained "very far away".

Lavrov warned of the "severest" consequences of an attack
that he warned would spark a regional refugee crisis and
incite inter-communal tensions in the region.

"I have no doubt in the fact that it will only add fuel to the
fire of the still-simmering Sunni-Shiite conflict. And I do
not know where the subsequent chain reaction will end.

He added that punitive sanctions aimed at winning more
transparency from Iran had "exhausted" themselves and only
hurt the chances of peace.

"Additional unilateral sanctions against Iran have
nothing to do with a desire to ensure the regime`s commitment
to nuclear non-proliferation," Lavrov told reporters at an
annual briefing outlining Russia`s foreign policy views.

"It is seriously aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy
and the well-being of its people, probably in the hope of
inciting discontent."

His comments came as EU diplomats closed in on a July
date for a full oil embargo that would suit nations such as
Italy with a strong reliance on Iranian supplies.

Lavrov said Russia had evidence that Iran was ready to
cooperate more closely with inspectors from the United Nations
IAEA nuclear watchdog and was preparing for "serious talks"
with the West.

He also hinted that Europe and the United States were
imposing the measures with the specific purpose of torpedoing
new rounds of talks.

"Iran is now waiting for an (IAEA) delegation so that it
can discuss serious issues. So the sanctions that can now be
adopted by the European Union can hardly improve the
atmosphere or make the talks productive," said Lavrov.

"All possible sanctions that could impact Iran`s
behaviour in the nuclear sphere or its cooperation with the
IAEA have been exhausted," said Lavrov.


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