Russia backs UN debate on North Korea

South Korea has called for UNSC debate on North`s enrichment programme.

Moscow: Russia said on Friday that it backed South Korea`s earlier call for the UN Security Council to debate North Korea`s uranium enrichment programme.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that North Korea`s reported enrichment capacities would violate existing Security Council resolutions and require further international inquiry.

"We see no basis for opposing a Security Council discussion of this aspect of the Korean peninsula nuclear problem," the Russian statement said.

"We respect the opinions of other permanent members of the Security Council on this issue," the statement added.

South Korea first raised the issue of a Security Council debate on the North`s uranium enrichment programme on January 25.

Russia also renewed its call for the "urgent" resumption of the six-party talks format that besides Russia and the two Koreas also include the United States, China and Japan.

The talks should lead to "reliable political and legal safeguards (for) Northeast Asia" and the "normalisation of state-to-state relations".

But it stressed that the disarmament negotiations should first and foremost focus on "new problems associated with the information that (North Korea) has an industrial uranium enrichment capacity”.

Russia said the resumption of political dialogue should eventually help the two Koreas launch new joint energy, transport and other economic projects.

North Korea has been seeking a resumption of six-nation talks for months. But the United States and South Korea have been sceptical of sitting down without greater movement from the North.

Pyongyang in November showed off an apparently functioning uranium enrichment plant to visiting US scientists. It says this is part of a peaceful energy programme.

Experts say it could easily be reconfigured to produce weapons-grade uranium and provide Pyongyang with a second way to make a bomb in addition to an acknowledged plutonium operation.

Bureau Report