Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the US is attempting to provoke North Korean leader Kim Jong-un into “flying off the handle” over his missile program to hand Washington a pretext to destroy his country.
He told journalists in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Thursday that the way the US was handling the situation was dangerously provocative.
“The Americans need to explain to us all if they want to find a pretext to destroy North Korea. Let them say it directly … then we can take a decision about how to react,” he said in remarks released by the Foreign Ministry.
“It’s as if the recent actions of the United States are consciously directed to provoke Pyongyang towards other radical actions,” he added.
Lavrov also pointed to Washington’s plans to conduct a large-scale air force drill with South Korea in December, saying the US would be better off if it tried to hold negotiations instead.
“The impression is that everything has been done to prompt Kim Jong-un to lose it and take another reckless step. It’s sad,” he said.
The Russian foreign minister also flatly rejected a US call to cut ties with Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile program.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday called for other countries to sever all ties with Pyongyang.
Lavrov said Haley’s call for the world to isolate North Korea was wrong, adding, “We regard this negatively.”
He also complained that the US was “totally ignoring” a UN demand for talks with North Korea, calling it “a big mistake.”
“We have repeatedly stated that the pressure of sanctions has been exhausted,” Lavrov added.
North Korea on Wednesday said it had achieved full nuclear statehood after successfully launching a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it said was capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.
North Korea says it needs to develop its missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent against possible aggression by the US and its regional allies.
The US has permanent military presence in the region, including in bases in both South Korea and Japan where thousands of troops are stationed.