Seoul: Seeking to avert a serious global confrontation over North Korea’s rocket launch, Russia and China on Monday urged the Hermit Kingdom to refrain from the launch warning that it would breach the restrictions imposed by the United Nations.
North Korea on Saturday announced that it was gearing to fire a long-range rocket between Dec 10 and Dec 22.
It would be North Korea`s second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power following his father Kim Jong Il`s death nearly a year ago.
North Korea’s first rocket launch this year in April failed badly and earned Pyongyang international condemnation.
A spokesman for North Korea`s Korean Committee for Space Technology, however, said scientists have "analyzed the mistakes" made in the failed April launch and improved the precision of its Unha rocket and Kwangmyongsong satellite, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
Russia warned North against violating a UNSC resolution that prohibits it from launching rockets using ballistic technology.
"We urgently appeal to the government (of North Korea) to reconsider the decision to launch a rocket," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
China too joined Russia in urging North against the proposed rocket launch, but it had moderated its its criticism of North Korea. It urged "all sides" not to take any action that "worsens the problem".
"China believes that maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia accords with the interests of all sides and is the joint responsibility of all sides," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the launch plan on Sunday as a provocative threat to the Asia-Pacific region.
In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he would coordinate with the US, South Korea, China and Russia in strongly urging the North to refrain from the rocket launch.
Kyodo News agency said Japan also postponed high-level talks with North Korea scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
North Korea has capable short- and medium-range missiles, but long-range launches in 1998, 2006, 2009 and in April of this year ended in failure. North Korea is not known to have succeeded in mounting an atomic bomb on a missile but is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen bombs, according to U.S. experts. In 2010 it revealed a uranium enrichment program that could provide a second source of material for nuclear weapons.
South Korean officials have accused North Korea of trying to influence the South`s presidential election with what they consider provocations meant to put pressure on voters and on the United States as the North seeks concessions. Conservative Park Geun-hye, the daughter of late President Park Chung-hee, is facing liberal Moon Jae-in in the South Korean presidential vote. Polls show the candidates in a close race.
With Agency Inputs