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Russia Warns US on DPRK's Nuclear Issue
Russia warned the United States on Monday that the way it handles the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) could aggravate the tension.

"It is counterproductive and dangerous to blackmail the DPRK over its grave economic position," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister George Mamedov told Monday's Vremya Novostei newspaper.

The absence of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula is in the common interest of Russia and the United States, he said.

Mamedov criticized Washington for taking a bellicose approach to the DPRK, which confirmed Sunday that it had started removing the seals and monitoring cameras from its frozen nuclear facilities for normal operation to produce electricity.

Mamedov said that the same approach was also employed by Washington to Iraq and Iran, which were on the list of "axis of evil" termed by US President George W. Bush.

He also described the US approach on the DPRK situation as "extremely inappropriate, even provocative."

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said Russia "has expressed regret" over the DPRK's unilateral step to restart its nuclear program.

"We also expect all parties involved to display restraint, honor their commitments, and continue dialogue to peacefully resolve all issues causing concerns," he was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Washington suspended shipments of heavy oil to the energy-starved country after it claimed in October that the DPRK admitted it had a secret nuclear weapons program.

On Sunday, the DPRK announced a decision to resume the construction of its nuclear facilities and reiterated that the decision was a follow-up to the suspension of heavy oil supply by the United States.

Last week, the DPRK urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to remove the seals and monitoring cameras from all of its nuclear facilities.

Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev on Monday confirmed that the DPRK had started relaunching its nuclear program and expressed regret over the decision, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Rumyantsev, speaking to Russian reporters during a trip to Iran, said he did not have details about the DPRK's move.

(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2002)

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