Russia blocks scientists' departure

MOSCOW (Reuter) - Itar-Tass news agency said yesterday that Russian authorities had stopped a group of nuclear weapons specialists from boarding a flight to North Korea to work on modernising Pyongyang's missiles. It quoted Valery Tretyakov, a Russian security official, as saying the group was prevented from boarding a flight from Moscow to North Korea last October. Russia had expelled two North Korean diplomats in connection with the incident.

Mr Tretyakov described how the scientists had been wooed. A man claiming he was authorised by Moscow approached officials in Miass, near Chelyabinsk, a year ago to ask whether employees would be interested in working in China or North Korea. 'The (Miass) construction department at that time was in quite a tough financial position, and (the) proposal met with interest from the defence workers,' Mr Tretyakov said. The first group of 10 went to North Korea in August.