MOSCOW (AP) – Russia”s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday urged Iran to cooperate with the United Nations” nuclear watchdog to end the crisis over its nuclear program, and warned that international sanctions wouldn”t solve the standoff.
Lavrov said in an article posted on the ministry”s Web site that the Iranian nuclear problem, just as the controversy over North Korea”s nuclear bid, "don”t have a military solution" and "can”t be settled through sanctions either."
"Both situations serve as examples of a general rule: problems can be settled through the engagement … not the isolation of the "problem" nations," he said.
Iran faces intense international pressure to curb its nuclear program, which the United States claims is a cover for building atomic weapons. On Monday, state television announced that the government has decided to build a second nuclear plant.
Russia, a key Iranian ally, has resisted U.S. efforts to bring Tehran before the U.N. Security Council over its alleged nuclear weapons program, insisting that the disputes be resolved through the International Atomic Energy Agency. Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran.
The United States and European Union want Iran to permanently halt uranium enrichment. A compromise plan proposes moving Iranian enrichment to Russia to make sure that it”s done only to fuel levels, not for possible use in atomic weapons. Iran, however, insists it wants to master the complete fuel cycle domestically.
Lavrov said that the IAEA should continue a "calm, apolitical work" in Iran, but added that "a lot will depend on Tehran”s readiness to respond to international concerns and continue cooperation with the agency."
Lavrov suggested that the format of talks be changed to engage "all main antagonists … so that they could establish bilateral contacts and move toward normalizing their relations."
He also warned that tensions around Iran, Syria and Lebanon could further destabilize the Middle East.
Russia has opposed sanctions against its Soviet-era ally, Syria, over the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but urged it to cooperate with a U.N. probe.