Vladimir L. Zhamkin

Israel will never put up with the fact Iran can acquire nuclear weapons. And it is prepared to use any means, including force, to hamper the process of nuclear arms acquisition by its main rival in the region. The warning was made by the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak during his Monday meeting in Jerusalem with the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Completely disregarding Iran’s assurances of peaceful character of its nuclear programme Israel describes Iran as Threat No. 1 to its security and even existence. As is known, Israel is considered the only nuclear power in the Middle East, but it refuses to give comment to these assertions. Asked to comment on the statement of the Israeli Defense Minister an expert of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations under the Russian Academy of Sciences, George Mirsky, said the following:

I think if Iran does not stop work to enrich uranium Israel will strike a blow on it in several years. Another question is if it will do this together with the Americans or not. In principle, Israel should act jointly with the Americans because it can certainly deliver a blow to Iran’s nuclear programme but cannot completely destroy all that is underground—-it is lacking military might. So, it is most important for Israel to act jointly with the Americans. At present this won’t do, however, bearing in mind the situation of the United States. Let alone the forthcoming elections, the United States bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, many countries would oppose Israel’s strike, say, a majority of states, including European allies of the United States. They can always say that so far Iran is lacking the level of uranium enrichment sufficient for making a nuclear bomb. There is no certainty either that Iran actually wants to create a nuclear bomb and do not uses its activity for bidding with the West and consolidating its positions.
As for Russian stance on Iran’s nuclear programme, it was once again confirmed by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview with the newspaper Al-Hayat. On the whole, Moscow favours a settlement of the situation by political and diplomatic means. The Russian Foreign Minister said that all disputable issues should be resolved at negotiating table. There is no alternative to this. In addition, much owing to Russia’s effort, six international mediators: five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, created certain conditions favourable for the beginning of the talks. Sergei Lavrov underlined that they hoped Iran would reciprocate; he also observed that no one called in question Iran’s lawful right for peaceful use of nuclear energy in keeping with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

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Vladimir L. Zhamkin is the Editor-in-Chief of Voice of Russia World Service in English.