U.S. has no military plans against Iran – FM Lavrov

The United States has no military plans against Iran and Washington agrees to cooperate with Moscow on bringing Iran back to negotiations, the Russian foreign minister said Saturday. Iran has been at the center of international concerns since January 2006 over its nuclear program, which some countries, particularly the United States, suspect is geared toward nuclear weapons development. Tehran has consistently denied the claims, and says it needs nuclear power for civilian purposes.

“The United States assured us [Russia] that it has no plans to wage war against Iran and the presence of supplementary [military] forces in the Persian Gulf region helps to stabilize the situation in the region,” Sergei Lavrov said upon his return to Moscow from Washington, where he attended the meeting of the Quartet of Middle East mediators.

The Quartet includes the United Nations, Russia, the European Union and the United States.

The minister said Russia and the U.S. agreed to cooperate on returning Iran back to negotiations for resolving the issue of its controversial nuclear program.

“We have agreed to continue working within the UN Security Council to bring back Iran to the negotiating table using diplomatic measures of influence on Tehran,” Lavrov said.

Russia, a key economic partner of Iran, has consistently supported the country’s right to nuclear power under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite international accusations that the Islamic Republic aims to direct its nuclear program toward building weapons.

In response to Iran’s unwillingness to give up its nuclear ambitions, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1737 last December, which provided for sanctions against Iran banning activities involving uranium enrichment, chemical reprocessing, heavy water-based projects, and the production of nuclear weapons delivery systems.

Tehran responded to the resolution by saying it would review its cooperation with the IAEA and on January 23 barred 38 IAEA experts from inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities. The IAEA is expected to file a new report on Iran’s nuclear program February 23.

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