Published: Sun, December 03, 2017
World | By Melba Underwood

Russian Federation positioning itself to make U.S. irrelevant in North Korean nuclear crisis

Russian Federation positioning itself to make U.S. irrelevant in North Korean nuclear crisis

Russian Federation yesterday accused the United States of trying to provoke North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into "flying off the handle" over his missile programme to hand Washington a pretext to destroy his country.

Sergey Lavrov's statement at a Rome news conference with his Italian counterpart today came two days after Ambassador Nikki Haley said that if war breaks out over North Korea's missile tests, the country would be "utterly destroyed".

Russia's foreign minister has accused the USA ambassador to the United Nations of a "bloodthirsty" stance on North Korea that could significantly worsen tensions.

Mr Lavrov said the way the U.S. was handling the situation was dangerously provocative.

"If someone really wants to use force to, as the USA representative to the United Nations put it, destroy North Korea. then I think that is playing with fire and a big mistake", Lavrov told reporters.

"We were encouraged by that approach". He said he was referring to joint US-South Korean military exercises planned for this month, which he said US officials had intimated to Russian Federation would not take place until spring to open a window for tensions to be defused. And then suddenly ... they announced large-scale exercises in December.

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Lavrov pointed to Washington's plans to conduct a large- scale air force drill with South Korea in December, a new show of force aimed at the Kim regime, saying the United States would be better off if it tried to hold negotiations instead. "Let them say it directly. then we can take a decision about how to react", said Mr Lavrov. "They reminded us of problems that Iran had after signing an agreement with the [Iran] Six, and how the United States now intends to terminate the Iranian deal", the lawmaker said.

"The impression is that everything has been done to prompt Kim Jong-Un to lose it and take another reckless step". "We have repeatedly stated that the pressure of sanctions has been exhausted".

China, meanwhile, unveiled its powerful new DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, likely ready for deployment in 2018, the timing of which Armstrong said could be meant to "both, dissuade the North Koreans from continuing down this path and to tell the Americans that the Chinese are dealing with it in their own way".

The Russians - who, according to Armstrong, "realize that the increasingly isolated on the North Korean issue" - are also strengthening their alignment with China, North Korea's top trading partner.

He also complained that the U.S. was "totally ignoring" a United Nations demand for talks with North Korea."I think it's a big mistake", said Mr Lavrov.

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