The United States has convinced Moscow that it does not intend to attack Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said after returning from talks in Washington.
"The American side assured us that they have no plans for war against Iran and that the additional presence of forces and equipment in the Persian Gulf region is aimed at stabilising the situation," the official ITAR-Tass agency quoted Lavrov as saying at the weekend.
Several retired Russian military officers, citing intelligence sources, have warned that the US appears to be building up forces near Iran to levels only previously seen in wartime, including two aircraft carrier groups, several batteries of Patriot anti-missile rockets, squadrons of minesweepers and cruise-missile submarines.
"The presence of four US nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf region means that the Pentagon has not abandoned plans for surprise strikes against nuclear targets in Iran," Admiral Eduard Baltin, former commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, told journalists recently.
Retired General Leonid Ivashov, writing in the Russian strategic journal Global Research, warned last month that Israel, backed by the US, was preparing a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of April.
Such an attack might make use of atomic "bunker buster" weapons to destroy the deeply-entrenched installations, he wrote.
"How will other nuclear powers react?", Ivashov wrote. "As for Russia, at best it will limit itself to condemning the strikes."
Ivanov said that he had raised Russian concerns in Washington, and US leaders assured him they are committed to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"On Iran, we have absolute agreement on the final goal, which is not to permit violations of the (nuclear) non-proliferation regime," he said.
"At the same time, it is necessary to have agreement on the tactical approach for moving toward this goal."