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24 Apr, 2009 19:27

Russia set for cooperation in Korean peninsula

Russia is ready to consider launching satellites for North Korea. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has proposed the move in an effort to get North Korea to return to the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear programme.

After North Korea refused to rejoin international talks on disarmament, Russia is prepared to take another step in trying to convince Pyongyang to return to negotiations.
Moscow said if launching a satellite was what North Korea wanted, it would be prepared to help make that happen.

Russia and South Korea will jointly launch a satellite together this summer. And if North Korea was able to launch from Russian territory, it would demonstrate how Moscow treats both countries on the Korean peninsula as equal partners.

“Russia is cooperating with many countries in the peaceful exploration of aerospace, including launching satellites with our boosters,” Lavrov said. “We have such agreements with South Korea and we are ready to develop similar projects with North Korea and hope our proposal will be examined.”

Earlier this month, North Korea launched a rocket saying it wanted to put a satellite in space, but Western countries claimed the launch was a cover for a long-range missile test.

After that, the communist state quit 6-party talks on the country’s nuclear program and expelled international monitors from its plutonium producing facilities. They say other countries wanted to curb its technological advances.

But the Russian Foreign Minister says there are other reasons behind the country’s decision to pull out.

”As for the obligations adopted during the six way negotiation in September 2005, and which by now have not been fulfilled, it is fair to mention the issue of energy carriers’ compensation deliveries to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Very few of those obliged to do so have fulfilled their obligations.”

The six party talks include North Korea, South Korea, Russia, the USA, Japan and China.

Lavrov says all parties have to fulfill their obligations from the talks before they can persuade North Korea to return to the negotiating table.

For now, North Korea says it is not going to participate in the six party talks and will resume its nuclear programme, and if there is any pressure from the international community, the country is prepared to offer a military response.

Some experts believe North Korea doesn’t want a war but simply wants to defend its interests.

”North Korea is quite different from Iran, rich in oil and gas. North Korea really needs energy deliveries and the actions of the USA and Japan refusing deliveries often drive it into a corner, and North Korea has to remind others of that from time to time,” said Alexey Fenenko from the Institute of International Security Studies.

However, the Russian government reconfirmed its support of the recent UN Security Council declaration, while opposing tough sanctions against North Korea.

But Russia is key to solving the nuclear crisis and Lavrov’s latest offer shows how serious Moscow is to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.