Russia urges North Korea to abandon rocket launch

North Korea says its rockets are used to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes

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The Independent Online

Russia urged North Korea today not to go ahead with a plan for its second rocket launch of 2012, saying the launch would violate restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council.

"We urgently appeal to the government (of North Korea) to reconsider the decision to launch a rocket," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

North Korea's state news agency on Saturday announced the decision to launch another space satellite and reportedly told neighbours it would take a similar path to a failed rocket launch in April.

Echoing its criticism of the April launch, Russia said Pyongyang had been warned not to ignore a UN Security Council resolution which "unambiguously prohibits (North Korea) from launching rockets using ballistic technology."

North Korea says its rockets are used to put satellites into orbit for peaceful purposes. The Russian statement said North Korea would be allowed only to exercise its right to peaceful activity in space if the UN-imposed restrictions were lifted.

Russia has often balanced criticism of Soviet-era client state North Korea's nuclear activities and missile launches with calls on other powers to refrain from belligerent actions against Pyongyang, which it says can be counterproductive.

Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and

is upset by any defiance of council resolutions. Past launches by Pyongyang have caused concern among Russians living near the country's border with North Korea.