Iran Nuclear Talks May Be Hindered by UN Report, Russia Says

Russia said a United Nations report on Iran’s nuclear program may hinder negotiations with the Persian Gulf country and President Dmitry Medvedev condemned “belligerent statements” against it by Israel.

The timing is “wrong” for the report, which may be released today and may show that Iran is trying to move closer to having a nuclear weapon, a Foreign Ministry official in Moscow said by phone today, declining to be identified in line with government policy. The document dwells on the past and its publication would “without a doubt, strain the atmosphere,” the official said.

Israel’s warning about a possible military strike against Iran is “extremely dangerous rhetoric” and the situation in the Middle East is showing no progress, Medvedev said today in Berlin. Russia continues to urge Iran to display responsible behavior, he said, adding that a “militarist wave” in the region may lead to “very complicated consequences.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to publish this week its quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear work, in which inspectors are expected to conclude for the first time that Iran is working toward nuclear weapons. The report may show that the Persian Gulf country used information from a Russian scientist to explore how to raise the yield of atomic warheads, said three officials with knowledge of the document.

The scientist in question is Ukrainian, the Russian foreign ministry official said, declining to elaborate.

Use of Force

Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking on the country’s Channel Two television Nov. 4., said the possibility of using force to halt the Iranian program was drawing nearer as the country moved closer to acquiring nuclear weapons.

“In the time that remains, we must urge the other nations of the world to act, and tell them that it’s time to stand behind the promise that was made to us, to fulfill their responsibility, whether that means serious sanctions or whether it means a military operation,” Peres said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow yesterday that an Israeli military strike against Iran would be a “serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences.”

Russia won’t accept any pressure on Iran that aims to topple the government, a senior foreign ministry official told reporters last week, asking not to be named in line with government policy.

“I think you need to exhale, calm down and continue a constructive discussion of all issues of the Mideast agenda -- Iran’s nuclear program and all other issues -- and not threaten the use of force in this situation ,” Medvedev said today. “It may end up in a big war and this will be a catastrophe for the Mideast.”

Lavrov said that a Russian offer to resolve the dispute by lifting sanctions in stages in return for Iranian cooperation on inspections was “still on the negotiating table,” adding that he hoped “no actions will be taken that could destroy these chances.”

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