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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia opposes punishment 'for its own sake' against N.Korea

RIA Novosti

15:5327/05/2009 MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said on Wednesday that the United Nations Security Council must take action to prevent North Korea from further nuclear activities, but should seek dialogue and avoid futile punishments.

The Security Council held closed-door consultations on Tuesday, the day after North Korea's underground nuclear test explosion. Russia has called for a "strong resolution" against Pyongyang, while other countries have proposed sanctions.

"The Security Council must speak out firmly and outline measures to prevent a further erosion of the non-proliferation regime," Sergei Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.

However, "We must not rush to punish North Korea, just for the sake of punishment. We must uphold the nonproliferation regime, but at the same time not forget that the problem can only be regulated through the route of dialogue," he said.

Russia, a veto-wielding Security Council member, has in the past refused to back Western calls for tougher sanctions against the North. Pyongyang is already under relatively mild UN sanctions over its first nuclear test, carried out in 2006.

Diplomatic sources in the UN said after Tuesday's talks between the five permanent Security Council members plus South Korea and Japan that the resolution is likely to contain "sanction-like measures."

On Tuesday, North Korea reportedly fired short-range missiles into the Pacific in apparent defiance against international pressure over its nuclear test explosion. The missiles brought the total number launches to six since the start of the week.

Lavrov dismissed media reports citing an unidentified Russian military official earlier on Wednesday as saying that Moscow was stepping up security in its far eastern region bordering North Korea.

"No military units have been put on high alert or redeployed in the wake of the underground nuclear blast in North Korea," he said, adding the Defense Ministry was monitoring the situation.


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