Russia says strike on Iran would be 'catastrophe'
Russia warned Wednesday 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.
Iran Defence and Security Report Q1 2013
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak earlier said in Jerusalem on Wednesday 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 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.
by Sara Hussein Â© 2012 AFP