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Security Council Fails to Agree on Statement Condemning N. Korea's Nuclear Program - 2003-04-09

The 15-member United Nations Security Council Wednesday failed to agree on a condemnation of North Korea's nuclear program.

The Security Council meeting came one day before North Korea's withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation pact officially takes effect.

It did not agree on a condemnation statement - in fact, it did not agree on any statement at all - but U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the United States is satisfied with the outcome of the session.

He stressed that the United States wants a peaceful solution and hopes the crisis can be resolved diplomatically.

"President Bush has repeatedly said that we seek a peaceful and diplomatic end to the North Korean nuclear arms program," he said. "The President has proposed a multilateral forum to discuss paths to verifiable elimination of the North Korean nuclear weapons program and a more stable and prosperous future for all the people on the peninsula and in the region."

The United States had been pushing a proposal condemning Pyongyang for non-compliance with international nuclear safeguards.

But China and Russia, both permanent members of the council, opposed U.N. condemnation.

"We would like to see the members of the council strongly reiterating their position in favor of political solutions of this issue," said Russian ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, speaking before Wednesday's session. "Condemnations will not help and whatever multilateral formats might be used, they will not produce results without direct dialogue between the United States and North Korea."

The United States wants to resolve the conflict multilaterally but Pyongyang insists on direct talks with Washington.

The council can impose punitive measures, such as economic sanctions, on violators of the anti-proliferation agreement. North Korea warns that it would view international sanctions as an act of war.

Pyongyang announced it was withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in January and expelled weapons inspectors from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. The U.N. nuclear watchdog then referred to the matter to the Security Council.