Russia FM: Iran Doesn't Intend to Attack Israel With Nuclear Weapons

In meeting with Knesset Speaker Rivlin, Sergei Lavrov says Tehran will avoid such an assault as a result of millions of 'Arabs and Muslims' who reside in the country; Rivlin: Only Russia can stop Iran without sanctions, military action.

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Russia does not believe that Iran intends to attack Israel with nuclear weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a top Israeli official on Thursday, adding that there wasn't any proof that the Islamic Republic was developing nuclear arms.

Lavrov's comments came after, on Monday, Foreign Policy reported David Rothkopf claimed that the United States and Israel are considering the possibility of a joint "surgical strike" against Iran's nuclear facilities.

While Israel and the U.S. still don’t entirely agree on the "red line" which would trigger a military response, the report said that the Israelis are now suggesting a more limited attack than was previously debated.

Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official and international relations expert, quoted a source said to be close to the discussions, which claimed that a small-scale attack is currently viewed as the most likely military option. Such strike, the source said, is likely to only take a few hours and would be conducted by air, using bombers and supported by drones.

During a meeting with the Russian foreign minister in Moscow on Thursday, Knesset Speaker Rivlin, who headed a delegation of MKs, said that "the friendship between Russia and Iran allows Russia the opportunity and obligation to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."

"Russia may be the only [nation] able to stop the Iranian nuclear program, without necessitating sanctions or military moves," the Knesset speaker added.

Lavrov, however, dismissed Israel's suspicions concerning Iran's nuclear aspirations, saying that "until now, it had not been clearly proven that Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons."

"Russia believes that Iran doesn't intend to attack Israel with nuclear weapons, especially when taking into account the makeup of Israel's population, which includes millions of Arabs and Muslims," the Russian FM added.

On Wednesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the West was lying when it claims that harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iran will be lifted if the Islamic Republic halts its nuclear progress, said on Wednesday, adding that the "enemies" were exaggerating the extent of the sanctions' damage.

Cited by Iranian media, Khamenei said that embargoes and sanctions were imposed on Iran even before the world began protesting against its nuclear program, saying that the West says that if Iran "desists from its nuclear energy right, they will remove sanctions, but they lie."

"[The existence of] a relationship between the sanctions and Iran's nuclear issue is a lie, and it is the pride and rise and persistence of the Iranian nation which has angered them (the enemies)," Ayatollah Khamenei was cited by both the Fars news agency and Press TV as saying.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attending talks with his counterpart from Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, David Sanakoyev, during their meeting in Moscow on October 9, 2012. Credit: AFP

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