MOSCOW — Russia on Wednesday warned a strike against Iran could have "catastrophic" consequences and urged nations not to draw early conclusions from this week's failed mission by UN nuclear experts.
"The scenario of military action against Iran would be catastrophic for the region and possibly the whole system of international relations," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told a news conference.
His comments came after a five-strong delegation from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) left empty-handed following two days of talks focusing on suspected military aspects of the country's nuclear program.
Chief nuclear inspector Herman Nackaerts said the team "could not get access" during the visit to Iran's military site in Parchin where suspected nuclear warhead design experiments were conducted.
Russia has longstanding commercial and military ties with Iran and has condemned recent unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over its suspected pursuit of nuclear arms.
Gatilov urged nations to wait for the IAEA's official report before deciding to condemn Iran for failing to cooperate with the agency.
"I would not make any profound conclusions from the IAEA mission that dialogue failed and we reached a dead end," said Gatilov.
"We are not dramatizing the situation."
A spokesman for the foreign ministry separately said that inspectors had visited Parchin on at least one previous occasion and had not yet fully explained why they needed to visit the site again.
The United States and its chief regional ally Israel have never ruled out a military strike against Iran over its controversial nuclear program but Russia has always insisted the standoff can only be solved through diplomacy.
Russia said it was particularly concerned that a strike against Iran could be launched from an air base the United States leases in Central Asia's ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan.
The US base at Manas is currently used as a key coalition hub for operations in nearby Afghanistan.
"It cannot be excluded that this site could be used in a potential conflict with Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters. "We hope that such an apocalyptic scenario will not be realized."
"The statements from Washington which do not rule out a military solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis have caused serious worries in the Central Asian region," he said. (AFP)