U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asked her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to warn Iran privately that it had "one last chance" to rein in its nuclear programme or face military attack by Israel, Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported Thursday.
Clinton reportedly made the request in a New York meeting with Lavrov on Tuesday. The article cited a "senior Russian diplomat" as its source, without naming him.
She asked the Russian foreign minister to deliver an ultimatum warning that, if Tehran failed to reach agreement with the international community in talks planned in April on inspections and other restraints on its nuclear programme, Israeli military strikes would almost certainly follow, the article said.
Russian government intelligence agencies had concluded that Israel has begun "preparations for war" against Iran, and that US participation in the strikes would be likely, Komersant wrote.
"It is no longer a question of 'if' (the strikes will occur) but of 'when'. The attacks will take place before the end of the year," the newspaper wrote, citing what it called "the opinion of Russian diplomats."
Iranian officials are scheduled to meet with representatives of the Group of Six nations (Russia, Britain, Germany, China, the US and France) in Turkey in April. A specific date for the talks has not yet been set.
Renewed international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and possible additional restrictions to Tehran's capacity to develop a nuclear weapon would be the main topics of the meetings, Kommersant reported.
The U.S. and Iran broke off direct diplomatic relations in 1979.
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