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Russia says N.Korea's stance on nuclear arms "dangerous"
( 2002-11-01 10:51 ) (7 )

Moscow is disappointed by Pyongyang's response to its request for information on North Korea's nuclear programme, Interfax news agency quoted a senior Foreign Ministry official as saying on Thursday.

Russia has formally asked Pyongyang to come clean on the state of its nuclear weapons programme after Washington said North Korea had admitted it was pursuing nuclear research in breach of a 1994 agreement to freeze it.

"There is certain ambiguity in the statements made by North Korean representatives," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov told Interfax.

"We think this ambiguity is very dangerous as it leads to mutual suspicion and will have a negative impact on the situation on the Korean peninsula," he said.

Under the 1994 deal, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons programmes in exchange for fuel oil and the promise of two light-water nuclear reactors to generate electricity, all under U.N. supervision.

Losyukov said Pyongyang had sent Moscow its comments on what happened during talks with U.S. envoy James Kelly, which led Washington to accuse North Korea of developing nuclear weapons.

"There has been no public admission that North Korea is pursuing its programme to enrich uranium and it is not even clear such an admission was made in talks with the Americans," Losyukov said.

"It sounded more like there was neither admission nor denial," he said.

"We would like both sides to try to act in a way to clarify the issue," Losyukov said. "I also mean the United States because the Russian side has received no convincing evidence that the programme exists after all."

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher welcomed Losyukov's criticism of North Korea.

"We're obviously pleased to see that the international community is so together on this issue. ... It's important that Russia is part of that," he told a daily briefing.

Moscow, a key Pyongyang ally in Soviet days, has undertaken to resurrect ties with the hermit state after years of cool relations.

President Vladimir Putin became the first world leader to pay an official visit to Pyongyang in 2000. He has met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il twice since then.

The two countries are working with Seoul to rebuild a railway line linking South Korea with the Trans-Siberian railway to boost South Korea's exports to Europe with both Moscow and Pyongyang standing to reap millions of dollars in transit fees.



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