Caspian Sea states declared in Tehran on Tuesday they would not let their soil be used for an attack on any of them, an apparent response to speculation the United States could resort to force in its nuclear row with Iran.
The Islamic Republic is embroiled in a standoff with Western nations which accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Washington has refused to rule out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row.
The declaration followed a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin calling on the Caspian nations not to let any third country use their territory for an attack, a comment apparently directed at former Soviet state Azerbaijan.
The U.S. military has inspected airfields in Azerbaijan, which has a partnership deal with NATO, amid Russian media speculation they could be planning to use the facilities in a possible strike on Iran. Azeri officials deny any such plan.
Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan said "under no circumstances will they allow (the use of their) territories by third countries to launch aggression or other military action against any of the member states".
Also in the final declaration, they acknowledged the rights of all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- which includes Iran -- to develop peaceful nuclear energy.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who insists Tehran will not stop atomic work he insists is peaceful, praised the Caspian declaration as "very strong".
The presence of Putin, the first Kremlin leader to visit Iran since 1943, has been watched because of Russia's potential leverage, on behalf of fellow world powers, to rein in Iran using its trade and nuclear supply ties with Tehran. ( Reuters )