Russia: Just let Iran have nukes

Thursday, October 11, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Russia's foreign minister on Thursday appeared to suggest that Israel and the West should just let Iran attain nuclear weapons, if indeed that is what the Islamic Republic is after, as Moscow estimates those weapons will never be used against the Jewish state.

"Until now, it has not been clearly proven that Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted by Israel's Channel 10 News as telling Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

Lavrov continued by insisting that even if Iran is seeking an atomic bomb, "Russia estimates that Tehran does not plan to attack Israel with nuclear weapons."

Rivlin, who is currently visiting Moscow, responded by calling on Russia to do more to halt Iran's nuclear program. "The friendship between Russia and Iran gives Moscow the opportunity and obligation to prevent Iran [from attaining] a nuclear weapon," said Rivlin.

For Rivlin and for most Israelis, the best guesses of foreign powers like Russia are not enough to put aside fears that Iran's nuclear program presents an existential threat to the Jewish state. Especially given the Iranian leaderships' repeated calls for the annihilation of Israel.

Nor was it possible to take seriously Lavrov's claims that Iran might not even be trying to build nuclear weapons.

Earlier this week, international nuclear experts reiterated that Iran has escalated its uranium enrichment program, and is enriching uranium far past the point of what is required for civilian purposes.

According to a report published by the independent Institute for Science and International Security, Iran will have enough weapons-grade uranium to build its first atomic bomb in two-to-four months. That assessment backed up the warnings of a report in August by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy magazine reported that Israel and the US might soon launch a joint aerial strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. According to the journal, Washington is said to be increasingly ready to participate in a brief surgical strike that would set back Iran's nuclear program without necessarily risking a full-scale war.

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