Russia does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state while openly opposing Pyongyang’s nuclear program, according to top Russia’s envoy in South Korea Alexander Timonin.
Speaking at a forum marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Russia, Alexander Timonin said the Kremlin will never justify North Korea’s nuclear missiles nor its nuclear program.
Timonin noted that if North Korea wants to claim the right as a sovereign state to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, then North Korean leader Kim Jong-un first needs to uphold his father’s pledges made on September 19, 2005 under the Joint Statement to abandon the nuclear program as well as comply with UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from launching long-range missiles.
Timonin also noted that the Kremlin has repeatedly notified North Korean leadership of its stance over Pyongyang’s nuclear program during many diplomatic events.
North Korea is not the only Korea Russia is concerned about. Timonin also expressed Moscow’s concern over possible delivery of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
He warned that Russia and China will have to respond for the sake of their own security in case a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery is delivered to South Korea.
Pyongyang and Moscow have significantly strengthened bilateral ties in the past year, with Russian foreign ministry calling 2015 the ‘Year of Friendship’ with North Korea. However, Kim Jong-un declined to attend Moscow’s Victory Day Parade in May, and has not had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin yet.
Russia is watching North Korea’s nuclear program closely
It doesn’t seem like a ‘Year of Friendship’ at all, considering the latest non-supportive concerns expressed by Russian foreign ministry toward North Korea’s plans to resume nuclear operations and launch missiles announced on Tuesday.
In a statement on Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin has been “paying attention” and monitoring the situation ever since North Korea announced plans to launch a missile and resume activities at its Yongbyon nuclear site.
“Russia expresses its concern regarding North Korea’s continued pursuit of rocket launches and nuclear weapons production, activities that have been prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Zakharova said, as reported by Yonhap.
Zakharova also said Russia raises hopes that all countries concerned in the situation would “exercise restraint and responsibility” in order to avoid further escalation of the situation.
However, she did not say whether or not the Kremlin backs further sanctions against North Korea or any additional pressure is required to urge the nuclear state to abandon its nuclear program.
Zakharova said Russia believes that there is “no other alternative” than diplomatic measures to solve the nuclear issue, according to South Korean television network KBS.
“That is the only way to stabilize the Korean peninsula,” she said.
China urges to resume nuclear talks
Last week, China urged all countries concerned in ending North Korea’s nuclear program to resume talks that stalled seven years ago.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the multilateral talks involving China, Russia, the United States, Japan, South Korea and North Korea are still the most effective way to resolve the nuclear issue in Korea.
The nuclear talks were halted in 2008, when North Korea refused to host inspections and declared the deal to be suspended.
“It is urgent for all the parties involved to reactivate the (2005) joint statement and make joint efforts to create conditions, reach consensus and pave the way for the resumption of the six-party talks,” Wang said, speaking at a symposium commemorating the 10th anniversary of a joint statement, in which all six parties agreed to bring the North’s nuclear program to an end.
Pyongyang carried out a long-range missile launch back in 2012, and another nuclear launch in early 2013. Just this week, North Korea announced plans to launch a missile and resume activities at its Yongbyon nuclear site.
Wang called for all parties of the talks to avoid escalating the tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“We urge all the parties involved to take responsible attitude and not to take any new actions that could cause the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia,” he said.
North Korea threatens the U.S. with nuclear war ‘anytime’
This week, North Korea announced about ‘normal functioning’ of its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon and warned that it is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. ‘anytime’.
A U.S.-based think tank concluded earlier this year that satellite images suggested the plant had become operational again.
The announcement from North Korea’s National Space Development Agency coincided with Pyongyang’s threats to use banned ballistic technologies to launch meteorological satellite into the orbit.
Thus, North Korea has returned to the kind of military rhetoric against Washington it often uses in order to get political concessions from South Korea and the U.S., its main enemies.
“If the U.S. and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy … (North Korea) is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time,” the head of the North’s Atomic Energy Institute (AEI) said in an interview with the North’s official KCNA news agency.
Yongbyon is the site where North Korea manufactured nuclear materials used in three nuclear testings by Pyongyang. The plant was shut down in 2007 under the agreement with the U.S., however some of its elements were then restored.
Such an announcement from North Korea is clearly aimed to provoke outrage from the U.S. and its allies, who consider themselves targets of the nuclear and ballistic programs of Pyongyang.
South Korea warned North Korea Tuesday against the launch of long-range missiles, after Pyongyang had earlier hinted that it might do it on the occasion of ‘a major political anniversary’ next month.