Elkin: Russians Don't Want a Nuclear Iran Either

Dept. Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin says he is 'cautiously optimistic' that Russia would understand Israel's concerns over Iran.

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David Lev,

Netanyahu and Putin, Nov. 2013
Netanyahu and Putin, Nov. 2013

On a trip to Russia with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin said that he was “cautiously optimistic” that talks between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin would have a positive outcome, especially regarding Russia's attitude to Iran.

Speaking to Army Radio, Elkin said that the Russians understand Israel's concerns about Iran's nuclear program very well. “We had some tactical differences, but Russia does not want an Iranian nuclear bomb either,” Elkin said. Russia in the past has declared that Iran has a right to develop a civilian nuclear program, and has generally advocated easing sanctions on Tehran.

According to reports Wednesday, Netanyahu was insisting on a “a real solution” for the issue of Iran's nuclear program. The report quoted Putin as saying that he and Netanyahu had had detailed talks about Iran, with talks running several hours past their original schedule. Netanyahu was said to be insistent that only the strongest of diplomatic solutions was acceptable for Israel's security and safety.

In talks in Geneva this week, Western countries are attempting to convince Iran to, at the very least, agree to limit its enrichment of uranium, in exchange for a significant easing of the sanctions against the country.

Earlier Thursday, an American official was quoted in Israeli media as saying that the talks on ameliorating the Iranian nuclear program now going on in Geneva could last longer than many expect. While the expectation among commentators has been that a deal would be quickly wrapped up, the official was quoted in the daily Ma'ariv newspaper as saying that the U.S. was “in no hurry” to wrap up a deal.