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. Military intervention in Iran would have "catastrophic" consequences: Moscow
MOSCOW, Sept 18 (AFP) Sep 18, 2007
Any US military intervention in Iran would be a "political error" that would have "catastrophic" consequences, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Losyukov said in an interview published Tuesday.

"Generally speaking, bombings of Iran would be a bad move that would end with catastrophic consequences," he told the daily Vremya Novosti.

Losyukov expressed the hope that there would not be an escalation of tension in the region, at least before the end of a summit of Caspian Sea countries due to be held in Tehran on October 16.

"I don't know if the Americans will bomb during the Caspian summit. I think they will refrain, otherwise they would have serious problems," he said in reply to a question.

"We are convinced that there is no military solution to the Iranian problem. It's impossible. Besides, it is quite clear that there is no military solution to the Iraq problem either. But in the case of Iran everything could be even more complicated," he said.

At the same time, Losyukov did not rule out an eventual evacuation of the Russian experts working on construction of a nuclear plant at Bushehr.

"As the situation in Iran is difficult, we have plans to evacuate our experts. They are drawn up and could be used," the deputy minister said, adding the hope that this would not be necessary.

The use of force would only "worsen the situation in the Middle East" and "bring a very negative reaction from the Muslim world."

"Of course I cannot know what is being thought in the United States," Losyukov said, but their military intervention in Iran "would be a big diplomatic and political error."

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Monday tensions with Iran are now "extreme", heightening a diplomatic storm caused by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's warning on Sunday that the world should prepare for a possible conflict over Iran's alleged work on a nuclear weapon.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Monday the United States remains "determined to use diplomacy" to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.

"We have said all along the United States government position has been that we are determined to use diplomacy to resolve this matter," Bodman told reporters at a meeting in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"I am hopeful that Iran will comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and we continue to press them to do this. That is ultimately the answer to all of this," Bodman said, referring to the UN's imposing two rounds of sanctions to get Iran to stop enriching uranium, which can be used to make atom bombs.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said Sunday in Washington that the United States will stick to diplomatic and economic pressure to force Iran to halt its nuclear drive, but "all options are on the table."

Iran denies Western allegations it seeks atomic weapons, saying its nuclear drive is aimed at providing electricity for a growing population whose fossil fuels will one day run out.

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