By Steve Gutterman
April 13 Russia criticised North Korea for its
rocket launch on Friday, saying that Pyongyang had defied the
U.N. Security Council and that neighbouring powers all opposed
Russia had urged Pyongyang not to conduct the launch,
warning it would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution
regardless of its purpose and complicate efforts to revive
six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear programme.
"U.N. resolutions contain concrete calls not to conduct such
launches, and this is the shared approach of ... Russia, China,
the United States, South Korea and Japan," the Interfax news
agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.
"These five (nations) are united in their position," said
Lavrov, who was meeting the Chinese and Indian foreign ministers
in Moscow on Friday.
Lavrov, whose country is a Group of Eight member along with
six Western states and Japan, joined G8 foreign ministers in a
statement condemning the launch and saying they were ready to
consider measures in response.
China's initial reaction sounded less critical, calling for
calm and restraint from all sides.
North Korea admitted its much hyped long-range rocket failed
to deliver a satellite into orbit on Friday while U.S. and South
Korean officials said it crashed into the sea a few minutes
Regional powers have said that what North Korea has
described as the launch of a weather satellite, months after Kim
Jong-un succeeded his father as the leader of the reclusive
state, is a disguised test of a long-range ballistic missile.
"U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1874 demands that the
DPRK (North Korea) refrain from any launches using ballistic
rockets. This applies to both military and civilian launches,"
Interfax quoted an unnamed Russian diplomat as saying.
Russia, which shares a short border with North Korea -
Moscow's client in the Soviet era - called on Pyongyang last
month to refrain from the launch, expressing serious concern and
calling for restraint from all sides.
Russia has often balanced criticism of North Korea's nuclear
activities and its missile launches with calls on other major
powers to refrain from belligerent actions against Pyongyang,
which it says can be counterproductive.
A permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia is
displeased when nations defy council resolutions, and North
Korean missile tests have sparked concern among Russians living
on the country's Pacific coast in the past.
The U.N. Security Council was to meet on Friday to discuss a
possible condemnation of the launch, but Western diplomats said
China was not expected to support new sanctions.
Russia has been a participant in six-party talks with
Pyongyang last held three years ago and hosted the late North
Korean leader Kim Jong-il last August in Siberia, but has less
influence on Pyongyang than China.