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Top Russian general expects imminent "decision" on Iran from West

(Xinhua)

10:05, February 15, 2012

MOSCOW, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- A top Russian military general said Tuesday that some countries may make their "decision" on Iran soon, without detailing whether he was referring to a military strike.

Iran "is a sore spot" for some countries, said Nikolai Makarov, the Russian chief of the General Staff, told reporters.

"I think a decision will be made by the summer," Makarov said.

The tension between Iran and the West was simmering, as the latter accused Tehran of pursuing nuclear weapons through its enrichment program, a charge rejected by the Islamic republic.

The United States and its European allies had expanded their sanctions against Iran to target its oil exports, the lifeline of the country's economy. The action prompted threats by Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most critical oil routes.

The Washington Post, quoting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, reported earlier this month that Israel might strike Iran as soon as this spring.

Makarov also told reporters that Russia is going to build two military facilities in the disputed Kuril Islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan.

"In 2013, we will build two new garrisons on Kunashir and Iturup islands and put everything there in order," Makarov said, adding that the island infrastructure will be completely improved.

Russia and Japan have been at odds since the end of World War II over four Pacific islands that are claimed by both sides. President Dmitry Medvedev outraged Japan in 2010 when he became the first Russian leader to visit the islands.

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