Lavrov in favor of nuclear-free
Photo: AFP
Russia calls for nuclear-free ME
Foreign Minister Lavrov says non-proliferation regime important for region, also wants to renew talks with US

Russia renewed calls for a nuclear-free Middle East, after holding bilateral talks in Geneva on Friday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Addressing a disarmament conference following the talks, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned the importance of non-proliferation in this region.


"The task to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the Middle East remains urgent. We consistently advocate this region to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and eventually, a zone free from all other types of weapons of mass destruction," he said.


Notably, Russia has been heavily involved in the construction of the Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr for the past decade and has been importing enriched uranium to the facility since 2007.


Warming ties with US

At the conference, Lavrov also called for a successor deal with the United States to their Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), saying this was a priority in 'resetting' their relations as Washington has urged.  


"We are prepared, as was suggested by our American partners, to "reset" our relations ... Conclusion of a new legally- binding Russian-American treaty on strategic offensive weapons could become a priority step in that direction," he said.


He quoted President Dmitry Medvedev as saying that the agreement should be "forward-looking" and should limit not only nuclear warheads but also strategic delivery systems.


Lavrov also called for the "weaponization of outer space" to be prevented and urged Barack Obama's administration to ratify a global treaty banning underground nuclear tests.


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