Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, but that its threats against Israel are "unacceptable."
Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting on economic issues in Moscow's Kremlin on Monday. (photo: AP/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
Speaking during a televised press session for reporters at the state-run news agency RT in Moscow, Putin said that he had "no doubt that Iran is adhering to the rules" vis-à-vis its nuclear program and its international commitments.
"There's no proof of the opposite," he said, according to RT.
Putin did, however, criticize the Islamic Republic for rejecting Moscow's offer to enrich the uranium for Iran's nuclear program.
Russia is one of the six countries that comprise the P5+1 powers, the group that's leading the diplomatic negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
Iran is in a "very difficult region," Putin said, "and when we hear threats from Iran against its neighbors, particularly Israel, or when we hear from Iran that Israel must be destroyed, I think this is completely unacceptable."
He said Iran's rhetoric was "unhelpful," but suggested that Washington exaggerates the dangers Iran poses. The United States "uses Iran to unite Western allies against some real or nonexistent threat," he said.
On Syria, Putin said his government's policy on the conflict is aimed at ensuring eventual harmony among all of the country's ethnic groups.
Russia has blocked proposed UN sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and acknowledged last month that it has contracted to supply advanced S-300 air-defense missiles to Syria.
But Putin said Tuesday that "we're not advocates for the current government and the current president."
Instead, he told reporters, Russia is concerned for the future of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria and that harmony must come from agreements among the factions.
"Not the other way around -- kick everybody out and then plunge the whole country into chaos," Putin said.
Syria has been a longtime ally for Russia, which has a naval base in the country. But Russia has shown signs of dismay over Assad's intransigence.
Putin noted that "changes came to fruition in the country and the leadership of the country should have sensed that on time and started to see those changes through. That's an obvious fact. Otherwise, what's happening now wouldn't have happened."
SOURCE: MICHAL SHMULOVICH
AP / The Times of Israel