Russia's foreign minister strongly warned Washington not to use force against Iran and criticized what he described as a unilateral U.S. approach to other global crises, according to an interview published Wednesday.
Sergey Lavrov said that Russia was worried by recent comments by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reaffirmed that "all options are on the table" to prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear power.
"We are concerned about the possibility of a military scenario," Lavrov was quoted as saying in government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta. "We are observing a U.S. military buildup in the Persian Gulf. Such a buildup of forces always threatens to trigger a military conflict, even by accident."
Russia repeatedly has spoken out against turning to military action to solve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, and has warned that overly harsh punishment would be counterproductive.
In December, Russia supported a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing limited sanctions against Iran over its refusal to stop uranium enrichment, but the support came only after an initial proposal that would have imposed curbs on the nuclear power plant Russia is building in Iran was dropped.
Senior diplomats from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany met in London Monday to ponder ways to pressure Iran to suspend parts of its nuclear program. Officials in London and Washington said new measures would likely include incremental restrictions on trade and arms.
Talks on the Iranian nuclear issue were deadlocked because of uncompromising stances taken by the United States and Iran, Lavrov said, according to the report.
"It would be unforgivable to miss a chance to use every opportunity to start such talks because of a false notion of prestige, because of the unyielding stance taken by both parties," he was quoted as saying.
Lavrov also assailed Washington for what he called a unilateralist approach to global issues, the report said.
"When they offer us a unilateral strategy and urge us to express solidarity in combating one or another evil ... that's not the behavior of a partner," he was quoted as saying, adding that President Vladimir Putin's harsh criticism of U.S. policy earlier this month expressed an opinion many other nations shared but were afraid to express publicly.
In some of his boldest criticism of U.S. policy, Putin told a security conference in Munich earlier this month that the United States "has overstepped its national borders in every way" and accused it of triggering a global arms race, reports AP.
"Someone had to say it ... to show the need for candid talk about how to deal with global affairs," Lavrov said of Putin's speech, according to the report.
"There are those who cannot say 'no' to the United States. But we can allow ourselves to tell the truth, and not just reject unilateral calls for support but offer concrete constructive alternatives," he was quoted as saying, citing what he described as Russia's resurgence following the troubled years after the 1991 Soviet collapse.