Russia warned the United States on Wednesday that any military intervention in Syria without U.N. approval would represent an act of “aggression” and that such action could have far-reaching nuclear security implications.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that military intervention in Syria could have “catastrophic” consequences for nuclear security.
“The escalation of the situation around Syria is of particular concern since action against the country could reach sensitive targets from the viewpoint of nuclear safety,” said Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
“If weapons fell on a mini-reactor in the suburbs of Damascus it could have catastrophic consequences: a possible contamination of land by highly enriched uranium and other radioactive materials,” he said, adding it would be “impossible to guarantee control of nuclear material.”
The statement came as Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded “convincing” proof that his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad was responsible for using chemical weapons against his own people.
Russian news agencies quoted Putin saying it would be unacceptable for the West to go ahead with military action against Damascus without U.N. Security Council approval.
“Only the U.N. Security Council can give approval for the use of force against another state,” Putin told members of the board of human rights in the Kremlin prior to a meeting of the G-20 in Saint Petersburg.
“Any other ways to justify the use of force against another sovereign and independent state are unacceptable and cannot be qualified as anything other than aggression.
“But Syria, as we know, does not attack the United States, it can therefore be no question of defense.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Putin suggested that Russia could approve military strikes against Syria if strong evidence was presented by the West regarding the use of chemical weapons.
“If there is evidence that chemical weapons were used, and by the regular army... then this evidence must be presented to the U.N. Security Council. And it must be convincing,” Putin said.
If there was clear proof of exactly what weapons were used and who used them, Russia “will be ready to act in the most decisive and serious way,” he added.