World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia is not about to concede nuclear power status to North Korea, according to Moscow's deputy foreign minister Sunday -- despite the appearance of relatively strong relations with Pyongyang.
Igor Morgulov, deputy foreign minister, insisted in an interview with South Korean news agency Yonhap that "it is never acceptable for Russia to effectively recognize North Korea's status as a nuclear possessing country."
The North announced last month that it had restarted its main nuclear complex, representing a major blow to regional denuclearization efforts.
While China is often cited as the country best placed to rein in Pyongyang's weapon ambitions, Russia is also in a position of influence.
Ironically, it was the old Soviet Union that helped kickstart North Korea's nuclear capabilities in the 1950s.
Recent months have seen moves by Moscow to expand cooperation with the North, whose leader Kim Jong-un was invited to the Russian capital earlier this year -- even if he stayed at home.
After 25 years since forging diplomatic ties with South Korea, Russia is now one of five foreign nations involved in efforts to forge an agreement to defuse North Korea's nuclear threat.
Morgulov is Russia's envoy assigned to the task, but six-party talks involving Pyongyang stalled in 2008.
The official admitted that "it's too early to say" when that dialogue will be resumed.
The United States, China, Japan and South Korea are all also members of the talks.
While Washington has also repeatedly refused to recognize North Korea as a nuclear state, Morgulov was more sympathetic to Pyongyang's plight.
"At the foundation of North Korea's choice of nuclear weapons were concerns over their own national security," the Russian official said, pointing to hostile forces in the form of the U.S., South Korea and Japan.
Morgulov suggested that the North Korean issue can only be resolved by addressing the wider source of tensions.
Nearly 30,000 American military personnel are based in the South -- a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which technically never ended because a truce rather than a peace treaty brought fighting to a halt.
The latest of Pyongyang's three nuclear tests came in 2013, and analysts fear a resumption of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula this month if Pyongyang launches a major provocation to mark 70 years since the foundation of the North's Workers' Party on Oct. 10.Last Mod: 04 Ekim 2015, 11:55