Russians coming around on opposition to Norks

Washington Post:

For years, Russia has appeared to take a back seat in international efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It urged diplomacy and resisted tougher sanctions, but usually let China take the lead in relations with Pyongyang.

There are signs, however, that the Kremlin may be considering a more active, tougher stance following Monday's surprise test of a nuclear device by North Korea less than 60 miles from the Russian border.

After an initial, mild expression of "concern" by the Russian foreign minister, the government issued a high-level statement denouncing the underground blast as a "direct violation" of U.N. resolutions.

"Initiators of decisions on nuclear tests bear personal responsibility for them to the world community," said Natalya Timakova, chief spokeswoman for President Dmitry Medvedev, adding that the test "deals a blow to international efforts to strengthen the global regime of nuclear nonproliferation."

Timakova also said North Korea's nuclear program was "linked to the development of rocket technologies" and described the connection as "a source of particular anxiety," according to the Interfax news agency. Russian officials previously played down the threat posed by the North's missile program.

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations convened an emergency meeting of the Security Council to condemn the test and pledged to support a strong new resolution against North Korea. Russia holds the rotating presidency of the council this month.

"The reaction has been quite serious and quite unusual," said Alexander Pikayev, a top arms control expert at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations here. "Moscow is really concerned. North Korea most likely has an operational deterrent now with this successful test. So this changes the whole situation."

Pikayev said the Kremlin generally defers to China on how to manage North Korea because it recognizes that Beijing has greater leverage over Pyongyang. But the government now appears to favor tougher sanctions, he said, and "might try to convince the Chinese to take more serious actions."

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This is an interesting development that could spur some action in the UN, but I am not going to hold my breath waiting for a resolution that will effect North Korea's actions. That will only come when the Chinese are willing to cut them off from the logistics needed to pursue their ambitions. So far the Chinese response has been one of words and not deeds. China does not need a UN resolution to stop supplying North Korea. It is keeping this sorry regime afloat and it can use its leverage to stop these programs and belligerence.

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