“Americans won’t strike [North] Korea, because not only do they suspect, but know for sure that Pyongyang has nuclear weapons,” Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russia’s NTV television channel aired on Sunday, as cited by TASS news agency.
The top Russian diplomat added that he was not defending the North by making such comments but “almost everyone agrees with such an analysis.”
An international uproar was created over Pyongyang’s sixth and the biggest nuclear test to date, which was conducted on September 3. The bomb, detonated underground, was reportedly about 16 times the size of America’s atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. The North also staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan some two weeks later, drawing Tokyo’s strong condemnation.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened that the military option is on the table regarding North Korea, warning Pyongyang that it would be destroyed if it refused to do as it was told. The American president and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, have recently been exchanging insults.
On September 19, Trump, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, mocked Kim as a “Little Rocket Man” who is on a “suicide mission.” He also warned that the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary.
Furthermore, Trump called Kim a “madman” on Friday, a day after Kim referred to him as “mentally deranged US dotard.”
Lavrov also said on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “repeatedly” said it was impossible to “imagine that the US or someone else has 100 percent information on all of the [nuclear] objects” in North Korea.
The Russian foreign minister said Washington carried out strikes on Iraq only because it was “100 percent sure” that there were no “weapons of mass destruction.”
Lavrov also strongly warned the US leaders that if they carry out a strike on the North without considering the nuclear might of Pyongyang, then “the situation could spiral out of control, so that thousands, dozens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands innocent people will suffer in South Korea, as well as in the North, certainly in Japan, with Russia and China nearby too.”
On Saturday, Lavrov urged Washington and Pyongyang to reduce tensions and described the trading of insults between their leaders as a “kindergarten fight between children.”
In addition to threats posed by Washington on the peninsular Asian country, stringent sanctions drafted by the US, including bans on textile imports and capping crude and petrol supply, were also passed at the UN Security Council without opposition earlier this month to further pressure the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
However, it seems that the sanctions have had little effect, if any, on Pyongyang’s will to complete its nuclear plans. Kim has already said that his country seeks to reach “equilibrium” of military force with the US.
On September 17, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley acknowledged that the Security Council had run out of options on containing Pyongyang’s nuclear program, warning that the White House may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.
Russia and China have already warned that no military solution is available for resolving the escalating crisis in the Korean Peninsula, saying the current standoff will only be resolved through dialogue.
North Korea is under mounting international pressure over its missile and military nuclear programs and has been subjected to an array of sanctions by the United Nations. However, Pyongyang says it needs to continue and develop the programs as a deterrent against hostility by the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.