Russia urges North Korea to avoid escalating tensions with rocket launch

A satellite being launched from Sohae, North Korea, on December 2012. PHOTO" EPA
A satellite being launched from Sohae, North Korea, on December 2012. PHOTO" EPAPHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia urged North Korea on Thursday (Feb 4) to avoid escalating tensions with a planned rocket launch, expressing “grave concern” over the announcement.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that it had summoned the North Korean ambassador in Moscow over Pyongyang’s announcement that it will launch a satellite-bearing rocket sometime between Feb 8-25.

Moscow said it had issued an “urgent appeal to refrain from actions that could further escalate tensions in the region” and called for “unconditional observance of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions”.

It urged North Korea to return to talks over its nuclear programme and other issues.

North Korea has notified three UN agencies that it plans to launch an earth observation satellite as early as Monday (Feb 8), just weeks after carrying out its fourth nuclear test.

The call from Russia, which last year said it would strengthen military ties with Pyongyang, joins a global chorus of warning against the launch.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday (Feb 3) called it a “deeply troubling development.” 

UN sanctions prohibit North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, and such a launch would amount to another major violation of Security Council resolutions following Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test on Jan 6.