Despite a call for Iran to cease its controversial nuclear program, Russia and China refused on Monday to back their American and European counterparts in calling for Iran to face the UN Council for violations. In addition, Moscow opposes imposing sanctions against Tehran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear. “The issue of sanctions against Iran puts the cart before the horse. The sanctions are not the best and only solution of the problem”, he said on Tuesday, according to Itar-Tass. He said that his country believes that there are other effective ways to settle the issue.
Monday's talks in London between the five permanent members of the Security Council-- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, as well as Germany lasted for seven hours in an attempt to reach a consensus on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program.
Many in the west believe Iran plans to acquire nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's claim that it is within its right to research nuclear power as it is intended only for civilian use.
The five did agree, however, to convene an early session of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The move came as a conciliatory gesture on the part of Russia and China, who agreed not to block the move by France, Britain and Germany to convene the IAEA session next month in which a recommendation could also be made that Iran face the Council.
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin emphasized that though Russia agreed with the stand of the other nation's towards Iran, though he did not feel that rash, "erroneous steps" were called for, according to Reuters.
Putin reiterated an earlier suggestion that Iran enrich its uranium on Russian soil where it would be accessible to inspectors. Iran, which had until now turned down the offer, hinted that it may consider the option. "We consider it constructive and are carefully studying it," Gholamreza Ansari, Iran's ambassador to Moscow, told reporters.
"This is a good initiative to resolve the situation. We believe that Iran and Russia should find a way out of this jointly."
China also emphasized the need for negotiations as opposed to military action against Iran. "China believes that under the current situation, all relevant sides should remain restrained and stick to solving the Iranian nuclear issue through negotiations," one official announced.
Russia and China have close economic and military ties to Iran, with Moscow having a $1 billion atomic reactor project in Iran, and China relying on Iranian oil imports.
In Jerusalem, Israel's Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Iran that his country would not let anyone who threatened its existence obtain weapons of mass destruction.
In his first press conference since taking over from the coma-stricken Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Olmert added he believed a diplomatic solution was possible before Iran was able to obtain nuclear weapons. "Israel cannot allow in any way or at any stage someone who has such hostile intentions against us to obtain weapons that could threaten our existence," Olmert said in talks with President Moshe Katsav on Tuesday.
Egypt rejects emergence of nuclear military power
Also on Monday, Egypt made its first public announcement in response to the crisis, saying that it supported nuclear power for peaceful purposes and rejected the emergence of a nuclear military power in the Middle East.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters, "All countries should adhere to their commitments in a way to allow the international community to be sure of the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, as we do not accept the emergence of a nuclear military power," according to the AP.
He added that negotiations were the best way to solve the crisis.
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)