Amid escalating talk of a US-led attack against Iran, Moscow is preparing an emergency blueprint to evacuate hundreds of Russian construction engineers who have been building the $1bn Bushehr atomic power plant in southern Iran —which would be a key target in the event of war.
"We have contingency plans for the evacuation of our citizens from Iran," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said in an interview published in the daily
"They are already drawn up and ready to be used," he added.
Russia, which is one of Iran's major suppliers of advanced weaponry and civil nuclear technology, has supported sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to halt its alleged drive to obtain nuclear weapons but opposes use of force.
"Of course, I cannot know what is being thought in the United States," Losyukov said.
"We count on and hope for a peaceful solution," he added. "Bombing Iran would be a big diplomatic and political error. . . leading to catastrophic consequences."
The subject of Iran topped the agenda on Tuesday as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner in Moscow.
"We are convinced that no modern problem has a military solution, and that applies to the Iranian nuclear programme as well," Lavrov said after talks with Kouchner.