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Lavrov Believes North Korea's Nukes Will Deter U.S. From Striking Pyongyang

RFE/RL September 25, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he thinks the United States will not strike North Korea because it knows Pyongyang possesses nuclear weapons.

"The Americans won't carry out a strike on [North] Korea because it's not that they suspect, they know for sure that it has nuclear bombs," Lavrov said in an interview with Russia's NTV television that aired on September 24.

"I'm not defending North Korea, I'm just saying that almost everyone agrees with such an analysis," he added.

Tensions have been on the rise recently over North Korea's nuclear tests.

Earlier this month, North Korea carried out an underground test on a hydrogen bomb estimated to be 16 times the size of the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

In response, U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea on September 23. The flight was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any U.S. fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century.

"Regarding this issue, President [Vladimir] Putin has repeatedly said it was impossible to imagine that the U.S., or someone else, has 100 percent information on all of the [nuclear] weapons" North Korea may have, Lavrov said.

In his first address to the UN General Assembly on September 19, U.S. President Donald Trump called leader Kim Jong Un a "Rocket Man" on a "suicide mission," while North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the same venue that Trump is a "mentally deranged person full of megalomania," who poses "the gravest threat to international peace and security today."

Lavrov, who in a speech to the United Nations on September 22 characterized the rhetoric as "a kindergarten fight between children," said that if the United States hasn't considered the North actually possessing nuclear weapons, "the situation could spiral out of control, so that thousands, dozens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of innocent people will suffer in South Korea, as well as in the North, certainly in Japan, with Russia and China nearby too."

Russia's top diplomat urged "suggestion and persuasion" to resolve the situation.

With reporting by NTV, AFP, and TASS

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-usa-northkorea -nuclear/28755151.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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