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Russia: Bolton, Blix In Moscow To Discuss North Korea, Iraq Issues

  • Gregory Feifer

Moscow, 22 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A top U.S. diplomat is in Moscow to hand over evidence of North Korea's development of nuclear-weapons capabilities and to stress Washington's position that it wants the issue resolved peacefully.

As North Korea steps up defiance over the issue, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton wrapped up two days of meetings with Russian ministers and other officials. Bolton spoke at a news conference in Moscow today. "I have shared with the responsible officials in the government of Russia certain information that we possess concerning the North Korean uranium-enrichment program and why we consider it to be a material violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and the agreed framework," Bolton said.

Bolton stressed that North Korea last week admitted to running a uranium-enrichment program. He added that Washington would not negotiate with Pyongyang over what he called "a fundamental breach of trust," but that the United States was also not seeking a conflict. "[U.S.] President [George W.] Bush has made it very clear he wants to resolve this matter peacefully and through the exertion of the maximum amount of diplomatic pressure on North Korea, and that's what we discussed here," Bolton said.

North Korea, together with Iraq and Iran, is a member of what Bush has called an "axis of evil" -- countries he accuses of seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Bolton was in Russia on a tour aimed at drumming up support for Washington's position on North Korea. He arrived from Beijing and plans to fly on to London and Paris.

His Moscow talks were also in preparation for a meeting in Mexico between Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, this weekend.

Bolton said he discussed international strategic stability, nonproliferation, questions involving the Group of Eight most industrialized countries, and other issues. He said he also discussed Russian cooperation with Iran but said Washington would not haggle with Moscow over objections to Russia's help in building a nuclear-power-generating reactor there.

The statements come as the United Nations Security Council prepares to discuss a new U.S. proposal for a resolution that would send weapons inspectors back to Iraq. Washington is seeking to pass a tough resolution backed by the threat of force.

Washington said yesterday that it may agree to new wording that would be acceptable to Russia and France. Both strongly oppose an earlier draft authorizing an automatic military response if Iraq fails to disarm.

Bush said yesterday that the possibility still exists that Iraq could be disarmed peacefully and that he wants to give diplomacy another try.

Russian news agencies cited unidentified "informed" sources today as saying Russia is "disappointed" with the new draft resolution.

Bolton would not comment on Iraq, saying U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell would discuss the issue with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at the APEC summit. Shrugging off questions, he said, "If anyone's going to make news, it should be your foreign minister [Ivanov]."

Bolton spoke as chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, also on a visit to Moscow, said a war in Iraq could be avoided if Iraqi officials cooperate with arms monitors and convince them they have no weapons of mass destruction.

Blix was due today to meet with Foreign Minister Ivanov and other officials and to attend a scientific seminar. He spoke to reporters on his arrival in the Russian capital. "If the Iraqis help and cooperate to create confidence that no weapons of mass destruction remain, then I think there will be no war," Blix said.

Blix said inspectors could return to Iraq within one or two weeks, but only once a UN Security Council resolution has been passed, setting out their mandate.