RUSSIA has urged North Korea to adhere to restrictions on its nuclear and missile programmes, after the UN Security Council expanded existing sanctions against Pyongyang over a defiant rocket launch last month.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's remarks added to pressure on Pyongyang to abide by Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

Mr Lavrov said: "We hope our North Korean neighbours will heed the voice of the international community and return to the path of co-operation, but for this it is necessary to stay within the bounds of the demands made in UN Security Council resolutions,."

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The Security Council, in which Russia and China hold veto power, unanimously approved a new resolution on Tuesday that condemned violations of previous restrictions and expanded existing sanctions. North Korea responded by saying it would boost its military and nuclear capabilities.

Russia has often balanced criticism of the nuclear activities and missile launches of North Korea, a Soviet-era client state, with calls on the United States and South Korea to refrain from belligerent actions that Moscow says would be counterproductive. But Russia is upset by any defiance of council resolutions.