NEWS

Help will be sent to Lebanon, but separately from the UN

What practical help will Russia be providing to Lebanon in the effort to restore its infrastructure after the war? Clearly the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1701 by the 15 members of the UN Security Council contributed to defusing tensions in the Middle East. However, although hostilities have ceased, armed conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has left many humanitarian and economic problems in its wake. For precisely that reason, and along with diplomatic efforts aimed at speedily resolving the problem in Lebanon, Russia is ready to provide emergency practical help to the population of that country which has been destroyed by war. For example, we are now examining the possibility of sending technicians to help restore road infrastructure in Lebanon. To that end, we are planning to send a team of Russian Defense Ministry engineers and sappers to Lebanon, not only within the framework of the UN’s peace operation but on the basis of a bilateral agreement between Russia and Lebanon. Do you share the USA’s concerns regarding Teheran’s nuclear program or do you suspect they are based on questionable evidence, such as that which led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003? Following Iran’s response to the Group of Six proposals and the report by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the implementation of Resolution 1696 of the UN Security Council, the situation regarding Iran’s nuclear program has become more tense. At the same time, although Iran has not fulfilled the resolution’s basic principle, that is, to stop all uranium enrichment activity, there has been no clear indication of the existence of any military nuclear program in that country. For that reason, at a Security Council debate on the possibility of imposing sanctions on Tehran, Russia will insist on the presentation of specific and incontrovertible evidence to indicate that Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons, as well as tangible evidence that it is supporting international terrorism. It would be unacceptable to repeat the Iraq scenario, where sanctions were imposed despite a lack of evidence that was officially acceptable. I believe that the problem of Iran’s nuclear program can only be resolved through political and diplomatic channels, mainly through closer cooperation between Teheran and the IAEA. What is your comment on the US State Department’s embargo imposed on two Russian arms manufacturers, Sukhoi and Rosoboronexport, a few days after Russia’s defense agreement with Venezuela? First of all I would like to emphasize strongly that Russian firms, including Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi, which engage in military and technical cooperation with countries abroad, always strictly comply with international law and Russian legislation. Naturally, this includes our commitments regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and controls on exports. The extension of US domestic legislation to the international arena – and in fact under an artificial pretext – can only be seen as connected to competition in the military supplies market. Whether some people like it or not, Russia has always supported and always will support its military-technical cooperation with Venezuela, as with our other partners, as based in international law and our national interests. Pressure on the part of third countries cannot force Russia to abandon its international commitments to other countries. Therefore, the USA’s «harsh measures,» prompted by that country’s own interests, will not make us reconsider our agreement with Venezuela in the military-technical sector.