North Korea has told Russia’s visiting foreign minister that it has no further use for international nuclear disarmament talks, the communist state’s official media reported yesterday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is trying to persuade Pyongyang to return to the six-nation negotiations, but reported tough going after talks with his counterpart, North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun, on Thursday.
Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, in a statement on the Korean central news agency, said Lavrov’s team had “paid attention to the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] position that it no longer needs six-party talks.”
The Russian is the first high-level official to visit North Korea since it announced it was quitting the talks and would restart a program to make weapons-grade plutonium.
North Korea was reacting angrily to UN condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch, which it said put a satellite in orbit. Other nations saw it as a disguised missile test.
Russia and China, which have traditionally had friendly ties with North Korea, resisted pressure for a binding UN resolution in response to the launch.
But they supported a statement that condemned Pyongyang and tightened existing sanctions.
The foreign ministry said Lavrov in his talks with Pak reaffirmed Russia’s position that it opposed UN sanctions against North Korea.
“Both sides recognized a satellite launch as the sovereign right of each country,” it said.
Russia is involved in the six-nation talks, which also include North Korea and South Korea, China, Japan and the US.
“So far we do not expect any immediate breakthroughs,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after meeting his counterpart. “It is a difficult situation but one does not need to succumb to emotions and should concentrate on the foundation we already have.”
He was to fly to South Korea later yesterday to brief South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.
North Korea’s military believes the six-party talks failed to ease the threat posed by the US military, said Chosun Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper published in Japan that generally reflects official thinking.
Tensions caused by the rocket launch proved its stance was right, it said.
From now the army will exercise a greater influence over nuclear policies, the paper said, suggesting there could be another nuclear test.
Chosun Sinbo said the administration of US President Barack Obama must try to eradicate the distrust of North Korea’s army if it wants to avoid following in the footsteps of its predecessor, which drove North Korea to conduct a nuclear test.
Pyongyang will further cement its status as a nuclear state, the paper said, recalling that the first test in 2006 followed UN sanctions.