Russia Proposes Package, Not Pressure

Russia believes it is too early to take the North Korea issue to the United Nations Security Council and is proposing a so-called package plan addressing an array of concerns in the crisis, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday.

Holding a Security Council meeting on North Korea's nuclear activities and its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would be "premature," Alexander Yakovenko said in a statement.

"Bilateral and multilateral contacts, which are being intensively conducted among the interested parties and the possibilities of which are far from exhausted, should continue," he said.

The United States is preparing to take its case against North Korea to the Security Council, raising the possibility of sanctions. North Korea said Friday that sanctions would be tantamount to "a declaration of war."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov urged against "pressure and threats" in telephone consultations with his U.S., French, Chinese and South Korean counterparts, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

"The escalation of tension must be stopped immediately. The solution must be a package. The path lies in constructive dialogue that takes into account the interests of all of the parties involved and establishes a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula," the ministry said in a statement.

Russian news agencies early Sunday quoted Yakovenko as giving an outline of the package.

The plan that Ivanov pushed in his consultations calls for guaranteeing the non-nuclear status of the Korean Peninsula, strict adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to the 1994 agreement under which North Korea froze its nuclear program in return for foreign aid, the reports cited Yakovenko as saying.

The package also calls for the resumption of humanitarian and economic programs for North Korea and for security guarantees for the country, the reports said.

"Of course, details are now being worked out in our contacts with all the interested sides, but in general the main elements of the package solution have already been defined," Yakovenko was quoted as saying by Interfax.

State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, warned against any harsh measures by the United States toward North Korea and said withdrawal from the nonproliferation treaty did not necessarily spell disaster.

"It's no use scaring anyone; it's no use being rude," Itar-Tass quoted Seleznyov as saying during a trip to the Philippines. "The reasons for Pyongyang's decision must be looked into in a calm fashion."

Meanwhile, Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev suggested that Moscow build a nuclear power station in North Korea to help end the crisis, Itar-Tass reported.

Rumyantsev made similar comments on Friday, saying Russia could assist North Korea with its nuclear energy program to help bring the country back into the framework of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The 1994 pact also called for the construction of nuclear power plants by a consortium made up of the United States, Japan and South Korea. Rumyantsev expressed regret that Russia was not part of that effort.