Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lavrov Says Russia Backs UN Deadline on Iran

Russia is prepared to back a United Nations resolution giving Iran a deadline to respond to a package of incentives on its nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Thursday.

But he did not say if Russia would support imposing sanctions on Iran if it failed to comply -- an issue that has split the U.N. Security Council.

Tehran has not responded to a package of commercial and technical incentives that six major powers submitted to it last month to persuade it to stop enriching uranium.

"A lot of time has passed, a lot more than the Iranian president promised our president (Vladimir Putin) in terms of when Iran would give its reply," Lavrov said in an interview published in Kommersant newspaper.

"We will be ready to support a resolution which will strengthen the demands of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) with regard to Iran and will ask it for an answer after a particular period," Lavrov said. READ MORE

Russia is one of the five powers with a veto on the Security Council. The five, plus Germany, began work this week on a resolution demanding Iran suspend uranium enrichment.

Iran says it is enriching uranium to generate electricity, but the West fears it is a prelude to bomb-making.

The draft under consideration in the U.N. would make it mandatory for Iran to suspend enrichment and includes threats of sanctions if it does not comply. In his interview, Lavrov did not say if Russia would back that draft.