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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Russia Worried About Possible U.S. Military Attack on Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow was “worried” about the possibility of US military action against Iran, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

“We are worried that the forecasts and suppositions of a possible attack on Iran have become more frequent,” Lavrov said during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that was shown on state television.

Lavrov referred in particular to comments made last week by US Vice President Dick Cheney, who said that “all options are still on the table” for Washington to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“What attacks are they talking about, without sanctions from the UN Security Council?” Putin asked during the meeting at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

“No-one is talking about such sanctions,” Lavrov responded.

Russia has relatively close ties with Iran and is building the country’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr, although Moscow agreed to support limited UN sanctions in December against the Islamic republic.

Washington suspects Iran of developing nuclear weapons under cover of a nuclear energy programme. Iran denies this, saying its nuclear programme is strictly for civilian energy generation.

Representatives of six key powers, including Russia, gathered in London on Monday for talks on how to increase pressure on Tehran amid mounting tension over the Islamic republic.

The United States, while insisting it has no military plans against Iran, is beefing up its naval firepower in the Gulf: two US aircraft carrier groups are now there, the highest concentration since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

And the New Yorker magazine reported Sunday that the United States is stepping up covert operations in Iran in a new strategy that risks sparking an “open confrontation” and benefits Sunni radicals.

The weekly reported that the US Defence Department had formed a special planning group to draw up possible attacks on Iran “that can be implemented, upon orders from the president, within 24 hours.”
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