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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow urges calm over North Korea's plutonium weaponizing

RIA Novosti

17:59 06/11/2009 MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea's weaponizing of plutonium at its Yongbyon reactor should not be 'dramatized,' a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Pyongyang said on November 3 that it had "successfully completed the reprocessing of 8,000 spent fuel rods" by late August and seen "remarkable achievements in weaponizing extracted plutonium to strengthen North Korea's nuclear deterrence."

"Such steps as the extraction and weaponization of plutonium from spent fuel rods at the Yongbyon reactor can hardly be viewed as favorable for the formation of an atmosphere to resume talks," Andrei Nesterenko said.

"However, we would like to call on everyone not to dramatize this, as such steps bring nothing new in principal to the current situation," he added.

North Korea has repeatedly stated recently that it was prepared to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives.

The country said on Monday it wants to negotiate first with the U.S. to repair hostile relations before resuming talks with the other parties to the long-running denuclearization talks.

Nesterenko also said he was counting on bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang, saying that "We hope our colleagues from the United States and North Korea will be able to reach an agreement in a relatively short period of time."

North Korea has invited Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy to Pyongyang, to visit. Washington has yet to officially accept the invitation, but has said bilateral contacts would be an important step towards resuming six-nation talks.

The UN banned imports and exports of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms to and from North Korea following a nuclear test on May 25, after which Pyongyang threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies.

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