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Israeli PM Travels to Russia for Talks on Iran's Nuclear Program

  • Robert Berger

Israeli and Russian leaders are holding talks in Moscow on the nuclear crisis with Iran. As Robert Berger reports, Israel fears Russia has shifted its position toward Teheran.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rushed to Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin took what Israel sees as a soft position on Iran's nuclear program. During a visit to Teheran this week, Mr. Putin warned outside powers not to attack Iran. He said that Iran is developing nuclear technology for peaceful uses.

With Iran's president threatening to "wipe Israel off the map," Mr. Olmert wanted to speak to Mr. Putin face-to-face.

"Israel sees the Russian efforts to move forward the Iranian nuclear project as a challenge to Israeli security interests in the Middle East, and the whole Western interests in the Middle East," said Ze'ev Hanin, an Israeli expert on Russian affairs.

Israel considers Iran a threat to its existence, while Russia is helping to build a nuclear power plant in Iran. Hanin told Israel Radio that this is straining relations between the two countries.

"Naturally, it is a point of concern for Israel. This is the point of cleavage and misunderstanding between Jerusalem and Moscow," he said.

Israeli officials say Mr. Olmert's message is clear: Iran must not be allowed to acquire the atom bomb. Officials here have warned time and again that if the world does not stop Iran, Israel will. They say military action against Iran's nuclear facilities is a last resort, but it is an option.

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