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Wrap: Lavrov urges Iran to stay within NPT, highlights strain with CIS

Russia's foreign minister urged Iran Wednesday to honor its commitments to avoid the proliferation of nuclear technologies if it wanted to escape economic sanctions.

MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister urged Iran Wednesday to honor its commitments to avoid the proliferation of nuclear technologies if it wanted to escape economic sanctions.

In address to the lower chamber of parliament that also highlighted tensions in relations with Russia's neighbors, Sergei Lavrov said the country would support UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran - previously Russia had opposed them - if the Islamic Republic were found to be in breach of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

"Any measures that could be supported by Russia in the Security Council could only deal with a situation in which Iran acts against its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," Lavrov said.

But he said discussions on UN Security Council resolution against Tehran could be suspended if it re-imposed a moratorium on uranium enrichment as proposed by the five permanent Security Council members and Germany.

The minister elaborated on the package of incentives put forward by the Iran 6 negotiators Tuesday, saying Tehran had reacted positively to it.

"The proposals include serious interaction to develop Iran's civilian nuclear energy and non-nuclear technologies and to involve Iran in the dialogue to resolve regional security problems if there are no suspicions about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," he said.

Lavrov said Iran might give respond to the proposals by the end of the month and added that UN inspectors were currently working at the country's nuclear facilities.

Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's National Security Council, said Tuesday that "the proposals contain a number of positive aspects, but some issues need clarification," and that Tehran would resume talks with the West after examining the package.

Lavrov also said Russian contracts in Iran, including the $800 million Bushehr nuclear power plant project, were not in jeopardy over the nuclear crisis.

"Neither Bushehr, nor our other contracts are jeopardized by issues being discussed now," he told MPs.

Turning to affairs closer to home, the minister was less upbeat about relations with former Soviet stable mates Ukraine and Georgia.

The desire of the two countries' West-leaning governments to join NATO prompted the Foreign Ministry's official spokesman to say in April that Russia that would have to spend considerable funds on reorienting its military capabilities to respond to the move.

And Lavrov reiterated the position, saying, "The accession to NATO of either Ukraine or Georgia will mean a colossal geopolitical shift."

He said Russia was "trying to foresee the consequences of this move, primarily from the viewpoint of Russia's national security and economic interests and relations with these countries."

The minister also voiced concerns about possible "unfriendly acts" against Russians in the Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking area in southern Ukraine that is being swept by a wave of anti-NATO protests.

Demonstrators in the autonomous republic, which is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, have been blocking a U.S. vessel at the port of Feodosia since late May ahead of the Sea Breeze-2006 exercise, seen by many as part of Kiev's bid to join NATO.

Speaking further about consequences of NATO enlargement, Lavrov criticized U.S. plans to deploy low-yield weapons in Poland and the Czech Republic, and arm submarine-launched ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. He said these moves could also have "devastating consequences for the nonproliferation regime."

"Their rationale is to defend eastern European countries against Iranian ballistic missiles. To us, this means the eventual possibility of intercepting Russian ballistic missiles," he said.

Touching upon problems in relations with two other former Soviet republics, Latvia and Estonia, Lavrov said Russia was prepared to resume negotiations over border treaties with the two countries if they dropped unilaterally inserted claims for slices of Russian territory and compensation demands for what they term the Soviet occupation.

But the foreign minister ruled out resuming talks if their position remained unchanged.

"As long as these political links are there, returning to the negotiating table is out of the question," he said.

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