Netanyahu: Israel, Russia to Face Common Threat if Radical Islamist Regimes Acquire Nukes

In Moscow visit, PM urges Russia to increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Moscow on Thursday that Russia and Israel will face a common threat if "radical Islamist" states acquire nuclear weapons, Russian news agencies reported.

Netanyahu, whose government has urged Russia to increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, spoke to Russian media bosses before talks with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Netanyahu in Russia - Reuters - March 24, 2011
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow March 24, 2011.Reuters

"There is a now a big risk that radicalization of Islamist regimes will begin in the Middle East," state-run Itar-Tass quoted Netanyahu as saying, according to a translation of his remarks into Russian.

"This risk is dangerous not only for Israel but (also) for Russia," Netanyahu said.

The Kremlin is fighting an uphill battle with Islamist insurgents in its mainly Muslim North Caucasus region, where rebels want to carve out a separate state with Sharia law.

A decade after separatists were driven out of power in the second of two wars in Chechnya, the North Caucasus are plagued by violence and analysts say the insurgency is gaining membership numbers and spreading in scope.

"But it will be much worse if radical Islamist regimes acquire nuclear weapons. Terror will be aimed against all. That is why the most important thing now is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.

Netanyahu said the international community must make clear to Iran that it will face military action if it continues to defy demands for proof it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, Itar-Tass reported.

Russia backed a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program last June but has emphasized its opposition to military action, saying the persistent standoff must be resolved instead through diplomacy.

Israel applauded Russia when it voted in favor of the sanctions and President Dmitry Medvedev subsequently said a longstanding deal to sell Iran high-precision S-300 missile systems was outlawed by the sanctions.