Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov’s answer to a question from Rossiya Segodnya news agency

Friday, 30 June 2017 11:47

Question: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently commented on a change in Russia's position on North Korea. Did Moscow really change its policy? Is Russia ready to try to influence Pyongyang, possibly together with China, to make it stop the moves that violate the UN Security Council resolutions?

Answer: Russia's principled position on ways to resolve the North Korean issues remains unchanged and consistent. We support a comprehensive resolution of all the problems on the Korean Peninsula exclusively by peaceful means, through dialogue of all parties involved without preconditions, and above all, the main antagonists – the United States and North Korea. It is our strong conviction that any military provocations, any saber rattling, bellicose statements, from whatever party, only exacerbate the situation, bringing it to a critical point that might be followed by a slide towards a large-scale armed conflict, even with the likelihood of using nuclear weapons.

To avoid this scenario, we have developed a set of practical measures, a sort of roadmap with the ultimate goal of building a lasting peace in Northeast Asia while addressing the peninsula’s problems, including its denuclearisation. We are ready to discuss this with our partners. We need to ensure that all countries in this subregion feel equally safe, and as far as North Korea is concerned, guarantees are needed that would make Pyongyang discontinue its nuclear missile programmes. We propose to advance in this direction without preconditions, step by step, from simple to more complicated moves, starting with obvious things – manifestations of mutual restraint, refraining from mutual provocations, the start of negotiations on the general principles of relations such as non-aggression, and non-use and non-threat of force.

In promoting our initiative, we are acting in coordination with our Chinese partners who have similar concerns about what is happening on the Korean Peninsula. They have put forward a proposal of a “double freeze” – of Pyongyang's nuclear tests, and of joint US–South Korean military exercises – and “parallel progress” towards the denuclearisation and creation of a peace and security system in the region. We support these ideas.

An important element of Russia’s position is the requirement for all parties to strictly observe the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Russia was involved in drawing up these international documents and voted for their adoption based on the unacceptability of North Korea having a nuclear status. At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that these UN Security Council resolutions state that there is no alternative to resolving the existing problems by political and diplomatic methods.

As for the international sanctions against North Korea, they are aimed at inducing Pyongyang to abandon its missile and nuclear programmes rather than intended to “punish” the North Korean people. We are against the broad interpretation of the UN sanctions regime and, moreover, against the introduction of unilateral restrictions by individual states, aimed, in fact, at North Korea’s economic strangulation.

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