Russia and China warn America against Iran strike as tensions rise ahead of damning atomic agency report

The Daily Mail – November 7, 2011

  • Fears mount that Iran could be ‘nuclear ready’ in a matter of months
  • Few UN intelligence suggests Iran was helped by foreign experts – including rogue Russian scientist
  • Russia foreign minister says any military action would be a ‘serious mistake’
  • Condoleezza Rice: ‘We must do everything we can to bring Iran down’
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains defiant

A former Soviet weapons expert and scientists in Pakistan and North Korea have all aided Iran in its nuclear quest, according to the United Nations.

The UN last week warned it had ‘compelling evidence’ to suggest Iran is secretly building an arsenal of nuclear warheads.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is this week due to publish a report on the findings, but there are fears Iran could be ‘nuclear ready’ within a matter of months.

The latest intelligence provided to UN nuclear officials and obtained by the Washington Post, suggests former Soviet weapons scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko allegedly taught Iranians how to build high-precision detonators that could trigger a chain reaction during the mid 1990s.

It added there was also evidence to suggest other precision technology linked to experts in Pakistan and North Korea had helped advance Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Danilenko acknowledges he was working in Iran at the time, but denies the claims. There is no evidence to suggest Russia knew of his activities.

Speculation that Israel or the U.S. is preparing a military strike against Iran in light of the intelligence is rising.

But today Russia’s foreign minister became the latest critic of any proposed action against Iran warning it would be ‘a very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences.’

Sergei Lavrov added: ‘The only path for removing concerns is to create every possible condition’ to resume the talks between Iran and six world powers, which broke down last December

China has also expressed concern about a military strike against Iran, but has urged Tehran not to be confrontational with the IAEA.

Meanwhile former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. should consider even tougher penalties against Iran’s government and ‘be doing everything we can to bring it down.’

Rice told ABC’s This Week that the U.S. should never take the option of military force off the table when it comes to dealing with Iran.

The current Iranian government is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon and has repressed its own people, she said.

‘The regime has absolutely no legitimacy left,’ she added.

Israeli President Shimon Peres has also mooted a possible attack.

‘The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option,’ he said on Sunday.

The IAEA will stop short of explicitly saying Iran is making its own nuclear bombs in its report out this week, but will give plenty of new details like the foreign aid.

Iranian officials seemed blase by the news.

Iran’s foreign minister and former nuclear official, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the Mehr News Agency: ‘Let them publish and see what happens,’ adding that the uproar over the country’s nuclear programme was ’100 per cent political’ and that the IAEA is ‘under pressure from foreign powers.’

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday the U.S. feared Iran’s growing military power because it is now able to compete with Israel and the West.

‘Yes, we have military capabilities that are different from any other country in the region,’ he said. ‘Iran is increasing in capability and advancement and therefore we are able to compete with Israel and the West and especially the United States.’

‘The U.S. fears Iran’s capability. Iran will not permit (anyone from making) a move against it.’

One part of the IAEA’s report is thought to reinforce concerns that Iran continued its nuclear programme after 2003 – the year that U.S. intelligence agencies believed it had bowed to international pressures to halt experiments.

One Iranian document suggests scientists had been discussing plans to start a four-year study of neutron initiators beginning in 2007 – four years after the 2003 deadline, according to sources.

‘The programme never really stopped,’ David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who has seen the intelligence files said according to the Washington Post.

‘After 2003, money was made available for research in areas that sure look like nuclear weapons work but were hidden within civilian institutions,’ he added.

Tehran denies secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, insisting it is enriching uranium for reactors to generate electricity.

But Iran has become increasingly belligerent in recent weeks and tensions are continuing to mount over its ambitions.

The country’s history of concealing sensitive nuclear activity and its refusal to suspend work that can potentially yield atomic bombs have already been punished by four rounds of U.N. sanctions, and separate U.S. and European punitive steps.

Earlier this week, it was revealed Britain was drawing up contingency plans for any military action.

Commanders were working out how to deploy Navy submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles in case President Barack Obama decides to launch missile strikes against Iranian bases.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Ehud Barak are reportedly agitating for pre-emptive action.

Mr Netanyahu is seeking Cabinet support for an attack and earlier this week Israel test-fired a new long-range missile.

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