Russia does not accept a North Korea that possesses nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
Lavrov added that there was an overwhelming amount of belligerent rhetoric on North Korea’s nuclear and rocket programs from Washington and Pyongyang, and that Russia hopes that ultimately common sense will prevail.
“Russia together with China developed a very smart plan which proposes ‘double freezing’: Kim Jong-un should freeze nuclear tests and stop launching any types of ballistic missiles, while US and South Korea should freeze large-scale drills which are used as a pretext for the North’s tests,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov noted that North Korea had once signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but then withdrew from it.
“Now [North Korea] claims that it has legal rights to make nuclear weapons and has already [done so],” he said. “But you know our position: we don’t accept the fact that North Korea could possess nuclear weapons.”
Both Russia and China have a “range of proposals” aimed at preventing what could become “one of the deepest conflicts” and a “crisis with a big number of casualties.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea expressed concern over foreign detainees in the country.
“I am concerned by reports that detainees are not receiving due legal process and are being held in inhumane conditions,” Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement.
According to the Russian foreign minister, there is the strong risk that Washington and Pyongyang could engage in military conflict.
“There are direct threats of deploying [military] power,” he stated.
“The side that is stronger and cleverer” should take the first step to defuse tensions, he said speaking live on state television.
A similar position was voiced earlier on Friday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Berlin would support “any non-military solutions” regarding North Korea but deemed an escalation of rhetoric “the wrong answer.”
“I don’t see a military solution to this conflict,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin. “I see the need for enduring work at the UN Security Council … as well as tight cooperation between the countries involved, especially the US and China.”