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Russia warns Israel, West against attack on Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during an annual news conference in Moscow January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during an annual news conference in Moscow January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia warned Israel and the West on Wednesday against any military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities but suggested Tehran should be quicker to cooperate over inspections of its nuclear sites.

Speaking at his annual news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mixed words of caution over isolating Iran or attacking it with a gentle nudge to Tehran over the inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Attempts to prepare and implement strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and on its infrastructure as a whole are a very, very dangerous idea. We hope these ideas will not come to fruition," Lavrov said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted strongly at possible military action to stop Iran from developing an atomic bomb. In an election victory speech on Wednesday, he said preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons would be the main challenge for a new government.

Referring to talks in which the IAEA has been trying to negotiate an agreement for inspectors to gain access to sites, officials and documents, Lavrov said: "The Iranians have said they want this document to be agreed in full. We think our Iranian colleagues could do this a little bit faster."

Speaking of separate negotiations between Iran and six world powers that are trying to ensure it does not pursue a nuclear weapons program, Lavrov said he was confident a new round of talks would be held but said a venue had not yet been agreed.

Iran denies it is trying to develop a nuclear arsenal and says its nuclear program has only peaceful purposes.

(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; and Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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