As Western powers batten down the hatches and prepare sanctions against Tehran, a senior Russian official says there still is no proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
In remarks published on Friday, deputy Russian foreign minister Alexander Saltanov reiterated that Moscow is not convinced that Iran seeks to weoponize its nuclear program, and moreover he has not been shown any corroborative evidence confirming that the country has any such plans.
“Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon. It may be more like Japan, which has nuclear readiness but does not have a bomb,” Primakov told The Jerusalem Post.
In order to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear work, Washington and a number of European countries have vowed to push for new UN sanctions early next year.
But the calls for renewed pressure were once again snubbed by China and Russia.
Saltanov said while “Iran has a positive potential” to cooperate with the West on its nuclear case, it is most evident that a military solution against the Tehran government would only make matters worse.
“If Israel attacks Iran it will cause great instability and will only postpone the Iranian program, not end it,” noted the Russian official.
Israel routinely threatens to bomb Iran’s enrichment sites, arguing that the country’s nuclear work is a mortal threat to Tel Aviv, which ironically is reported to have the Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal and 200 nuclear warheads at its disposal.
This is while Iran, unlike Tel Aviv, is a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has opened its nuclear facilities to routine inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog.
In response to Israeli war threats, Tehran warns that if Tel Aviv steps out of line, it will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to maritime traffic, including the 15 or so supertankers that sail through on a daily basis to deliver the world’s oil supplies.
A recent report by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has confirmed that if the United States or Israel decide to bomb Tehran’s nuclear sites, Iran’s naval modernization and maritime capabilities have reached a point where it can shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“Given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran,” said the intelligence report, which was revealed by Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin in November.
It notes that while Iran’s ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz may be transitory, the impact would undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the already-fragile world economy.
“[World economies would suffer] a serious economic impact from a sustain closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum supplies and (liquefied natural gas),” ONI said.
On the same note, the report adds that not only has Tehran acquired “increasingly sophisticated systems” from China and Russia, but the “modernization” of the Iranian navy is to an extent that would help the government carry out such a closure if need be.