Page last updated at 19:24 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 20:24 UK

World reaction to Iran's nuclear sites

BBC correspondents in Russia and Israel report on reaction to Iran's second uranium enrichment facility.


It is still far from certain whether Russia will support tough new UN sanctions against Iran.

In his talks with President Barack Obama in New York Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev's language was equivocal.

He said sanctions "may be inevitable". He certainly did not promise Russia would support them.

It is also not clear who President Medvedev was speaking for. Himself, or the whole of the Russian government?

As one Russian analyst put it to me today: "President Medvedev probably doesn't even know himself whether Russia will support fresh sanctions - the real decision will not be made by him."

It is Russia's powerful Prime Minister Vladmir Putin, and the hard men who lurk in the Kremlin shadows, who will make that decision. So far they have yet to declare their hand.

There are powerful factions within the Russian government who favour continued close relations with Iran and will fight hard to prevent sanctions.

There are equally powerful figures in the Kremlin who are close to Israel, and who would welcome a new course in Russia's foreign policy in the middle east.


It is no surprise that the Israelis would have known about the intelligence on the secret nuclear site.

There is close US-Israeli intelligence-sharing - although the Israelis have always published harsher and more worrying assessments about Iranian intentions and capabilities.

Asked for Israel's reaction to the news in Pittsburgh, the prime minister's spokesman referred us to Mr Netanyahu's speech to the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

Then, Mr Netanyahu stood at the podium brandishing some of the original blueprints for Auschwitz.

That was intended to refute the earlier statement by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the extent of the Holocaust was in dispute and needed more research.

Mr Netanyahu gave a long list of his own relatives murdered in the gas chambers.

Mr Netanyahu and indeed most Israelis think a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten their very existence.

Time and again, they refer to the Iranian president's remarks about "wiping Israel off the map".

Those remarks - what was actually said and the interpretation to place on it - are disputed, but their meaning has always seemed very clear to Israelis.

For the time being, Mr Netanyahu seems to be giving economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure a chance to work. Would he order a military strike?

Such talk was "hypothetical", he said repeatedly in interviews with the US TV networks in the run up the UN meeting.

But Israel has done this kind of thing before - hitting the Iraqi reactor at Osirak in 1981 and a supposed nuclear site in Syria in 2007.

The Israeli prime minister has said repeatedly that he sees no more important issue - and no bigger threat to world peace - than a nuclear-armed Iran.

No one should doubt his determination - supported by many Israelis - not to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

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