While much of the world’s attention has been focused on the relentless bloodshed in Syria, Russia brought another troubled Middle East nation back into the limelight Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again warned Israel and the Western nations not to perpetrate an attack in Iran to thwart its nuclear program.
According to a report from Agence France-Press, Lavrov suggested that if Iran were indeed attacked she would have no recourse but to seek to build atomic weapons to prevent future military strikes.
The CIA and other U.S. officials admit they now have no information about the Iranian leadership taking the political decision to produce nuclear weapons, Lavrov told Moscow's Kommersant FM radio on Tuesday.
But I am almost certain that such a decision will surely be taken after [any] strikes on Iran. … Scientists of almost all nations ... agree that strikes against Iran can slow its nuclear program. But do away with it, close it, eliminate it? -- never.
Lavrov further warned that any provocative action against Iran would spark a wider conflict in the Middle East and perhaps even a deadly nuclear arms race among poorer nations.
This [situation is] forcing a lot of Third World countries to pause and realize that if you have a nuclear bomb, no one will really bother you,” he said.
You might get some light sanctions, but people will always coddle you, they will court you and try to convince you of things.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei similarly warned that the Islamic Republic would retaliate with equal force against Israel or the U.S. in the event of an attack.
“We do not possess a nuclear weapon and we will not build one, but we will defend ourselves against any aggression, whether by the U.S. or the Zionist regime, with the same level [of force],” Khamenei told a crowd of people in the city of Mashhad, while observing Nowruz, the Persian new year, according to his government's Press TV.
“[Arrogant global leaders], those in positions of power and wealth, and their agents in our region are trying to intimidate the Iranian nation with all their financial, propaganda and political resources,” Khamenei added.
As they have with Syria, Russia keeps close military and trading ties with the Iranians although they have lent mild support to Western sanctions against Iran.
Nonetheless, Lavrov also criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his persistently belligerent language against Israel.
This is completely unacceptable ... and we categorically condemn it, Lavrov said. It is simply uncivilized and unworthy of a country as ancient as Iran.
Lavrov also seemed to contradict himself when he raised an interesting facet regarding potential Iranian retaliation against Israel.
I am absolutely convinced that Iran will never decide to do this, if only because ... a threat to destroy Israel will also destroy Palestine, he said.