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    Russia opposes sanctions against N.Korea over rocket launch

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    Moscow is concerned by Pyongyang's recent rocket launch, but believes that imposing sanctions against North Korea would be counterproductive, the Russian foreign minister said.

    MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is concerned by Pyongyang's recent rocket launch, but believes that imposing sanctions against North Korea would be counterproductive, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday.

    North Korea launched a multistage rocket that it said was carrying a communications satellite on Sunday morning, defying pressure from the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries, which suspect the launch was a cover for a test of a Taepodong-2 long-range missile. (VIDEO)

    "We are definitely concerned by the recent rocket launch and believe it does not offer grounds for stabilizing the situation in the region," Sergei Lavrov said, adding that "we also believe that any threat of sanctions would be counterproductive."

    The 15-member Security Council convened for an emergency meeting late on Sunday at Japan's request, to discuss sanctions against Pyongyang following the launch, but strong opposition from Russia and China prevented the adoption of even a preliminary statement of condemnation.

    The top Russian diplomat said Moscow will not change its stance concerning proposed sanctions against Pyongyang.

    "We will not change our stance and our position is reflected in all those consensus decisions, which have been made in recent years concerning ways of resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula," Lavrov said.

    Pak Tok Hun, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the UN, warned the UN Security Council on Tuesday night that North Korea would respond with "strong steps" if the organization takes any action over Pyongyang's satellite launch.

    "If the Security Council - they take any kind of steps whatever" Pyongyang will consider this as an encroachment on the country's sovereignty "and the next option will be ours."

    He added that "necessary" and "strong steps" will follow, but did not specify what kind of measures could be taken in response.

    North Korea claims the rocket, which was launched over Japan, successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit, but the U.S. and South Korean militaries said all three stages fell into the ocean and that "no object entered orbit."

    The U.S. and other countries argued for sanctions against Pyongyang, saying that the launch violated Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed after North Korea's 2006 nuclear test, but Russia and China called for restraint on the grounds that the resolution does not prohibit the launch of satellites.

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