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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia pledges to back UN resolution on N. Korea

RIA Novosti

17:1728/05/2009 MOSCOW, May 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not object to a new UN resolution on North Korea over the communist state's recent nuclear test, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

"We have no reason to object to a new UN Security Council resolution on North Korea," Andrei Nestrenko said.

The five permanent members of the Security Council plus South Korea and Japan are expected to draft a resolution next week.

Russia, a veto-wielding Security Council member, which in the past has refused to back Western calls for tougher sanctions against the North, earlier said a "strong resolution" was needed against Pyongyang this time.

Since the start of the week Pyongyang has conducted an underground nuclear test explosion and test launched at least six short-range surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles in defiance of previous UN resolutions.

Pyongyang is already under a number of UN sanctions over its first nuclear test, carried out in 2006.

Possible new sanctions may include a ban on importing and exporting all arms and not just heavy weapons, additional asset freezes and travel bans for North Korean officials, and placing more firms on a UN blacklist, according to UN sources.

However, Russia believes that North Korea's isolation would be ineffective and sees no alternative to six-nation talks for ensuring stability in the Korean Peninsula.

"We still don't see a real alternative for ensuring stability and security other than through political-diplomatic tracks, responsible dialogue with the participation of all interested sides, and above all by resuming six-nation talks," Nesterenko said.

The six-nation talks, involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Under deals reached in 2007, the North began disabling a nuclear reactor and other facilities at Yongbyon under international supervision, in exchange for economic aid and political incentives.

However, in December last year, a round of six-nation talks ended in deadlock over a U.S. demand that nuclear inspectors be allowed to take samples out of the country from North Korean facilities for further analysis.

The reclusive communist regime had been threatening for several weeks to resume work at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, which produces weapons-grade plutonium, after withdrawing from six-nation talks. The move came in response to international condemnation of an April 5 rocket launch, which Pyongyang said was carrying a communications satellite.

North Korea had also said it would conduct further nuclear tests and rocket launches to ensure its security and defense capability.

Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed hope that the latest actions by North Korea would not lead to a new arms race in the region.

"We hope that the latest actions taken by North Korea will not be used by other countries as a pretext to create or increase their own nuclear potential and will not lead to a new round of an arms race in the region," Nesterenko said.


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