Russian foreign minister finds no evidence Iran has violated nonproliferation regime

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that there is no evidence proving Iran violates the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

"We have no grounds to believe the presence of such a threat has been proven," Lavrov said, citing monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The statement was the latest in which a Russian official has suggested Iran's nuclear program is less of a threat than other countries, primarily the United States, believe.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser Al Kidwa, Lavrov said that maintaining the regime established by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which Iran is a party to, is of primary importance. "If a real threat to the non-proliferation regime emerges, we will look at it very seriously," he said.

Russia is building a nuclear power reactor in Iran in a project that has long raised U.S. concerns it could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons, but has signed a deal meant to ease that threat by stipulating that all spent fuel must be returned to Russia.

President Vladimir Putin has moved closer to the U.S. line on Iran while also seeking to maintain close relations with Tehran, saying he is convinced its government is not seeking nuclear weapons but that it must do more to prove that to the world.

Lavrov apparently did not comment on Iran's call for more countries to join Germany, Britain and France in negotiations on its nuclear program. Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment on Iran's statement, the AP reports.

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