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China, Russia to Oppose Any UN Statement on N. Korea - 2003-04-09

A United Nations Security Council discussion on North Korea's nuclear programs, scheduled for Wednesday, has been written off by some of the major parties even before it takes place. The U.N. Security Council's debate on North Korea's nuclear ambitions comes one day before the North's withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is due to take effect.

The Security Council discussion was prompted by Pyongyang's expulsion of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog. North Korea has also restarted an idled nuclear power plant, and announced its withdrawal from the international nuclear treaty.

However, two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, have already announced their opposition to any kind of U.N. statement or decision on the issue.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Liu Jianchao, said it was "not appropriate" for the Security Council to get involved in the issue. Mr. Liu warned that "no related parties" should take actions that might "further complicate the matter."

Backing this up, Alexander Losyukov, an Asia specialist at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said any action by the Security Council could cause the situation to unravel further. He said "urgent measures" were needed to cool the situation down.

North Korea, for its part, has said twice in recent days that it would regard any U.N. resolution as "null and void." A senior military official, Kim Yong-chun, Chief of the General Staff of the North Korean Army, accused the United States of manipulating the Security Council.

The South Korean government, meanwhile, is continuing its diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the dispute. The foreign minister, Yoon Young-kwan, is due to fly to Beijing at the end of this week for discussions on the matter.

One stumbling block to talks has been a disagreement on the form any negotiations over a solution should take. North Korea insists on bilateral talks between itself and the United States. Washington says the problem is a multilateral one, and that talks must therefore involve North Korea's neighbors.

One suggestion currently making the rounds is for a multi-lateral conference, at which North Korean and U.S. delegates could meet privately on the sidelines.