Russia: U.S. won't strike North Korea because of nukes

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Sept. 25, 2017 at 9:24 AM
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Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he is confident the United States is not going to attack North Korea, for the same reason Pyongyang says it is safe from a U.S. strike: Kim Jong Un has nuclear weapons.

Lavrov's statement came a day before Choi Sun Hee, the North America bureau chief of Pyongyang's foreign ministry, arrived in Vladivostok to meet with senior Russian officials.

Lavrov, who attended the United Nations General Assembly last week, said other world leaders he met in New York would agree with that statement, Russian news channel NTV reported Sunday.

"The Americans are not going to attack North Korea," Lavrov told NTV. "North Korea is not only suspected of having nuclear weapons, [the Americans] know [the North Koreans] actually have nuclear weapons."

But Lavrov also said no country could possibly retain all nuclear weapons information on an adversary.

"Regarding this issue, as President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said, it is impossible to imagine the United States, or any other country, retaining 100 percent of all nuclear weapons information," Lavrov said.

He then added, "I am not defending North Korea. I am actually saying I agree with all people who make such analysis."

Lavrov also indirectly warned the United States against a military option on North Korea.

"If the situation spirals out of control, in South Korea and North Korea, and Japan, Russia, and China, hundreds of thousands of innocent people will suffer," Russia's top diplomat said.

Lavrov added the United States was able to carry out an attack on Iraq in 2003 "because it was 100 percent confident that there were no weapons of mass destruction."

North Korea's Choi is expected to discuss the situation on the peninsula with Russian officials, Japanese television network NHK reported.

Choi met with Russia's Ambassador to Pyongyang Alexander Matsegora last Wednesday.

According to NHK, Russia has been balancing criticisms of North Korea with solving problems through dialogue.

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