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North Korea: the firmness of the United States faces the Russian warnings

Ⓒ POOL/AFP – WU HONG – | Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 5, 2017
at the summit of the emerging powers of the Brics (Brazil,
Russia, India, China, South Africa) in Xiamen, south-east
China.

Russia on Tuesday warned against the United States’ line of
firmness two days after the latest North Korean nuclear test,
refusing “military hysteria” and duplicating US hopes for
further rapid international sanctions.

Donald Trump confirmed the Washington-based martial tone
since North Korea claimed on Sunday a successful H-bomb test,
the most powerful test ever tested by Pyongyang.

The US president, who last month promised “fire and anger”
in Pyongyang if his threats were to continue, said Tuesday in a
tweet that he allowed Japan and South Korea to buy US arms ”
ultra sophisticated “. The United States has already threatened
on Sunday the Kim Jong-Un regime of a “massive military
response”.

South Korea, for its part, launched on Monday land-based
maneuvers with real shots and the South Korean navy did the
same Tuesday in the hope to dissuade Pyongyang from any
provocation at sea.

But exchanges of threats continue: North Korean ambassador
to the UN in Geneva, Han Tae Song, assured that the recent
“self-defense measures” of his country were a “gift package”
addressed to the United States, Which will “receive others” if
they pursue “their reckless provocations and futile attempts to
put pressure” on North Korea.

Ⓒ AFP – KENA BETANCUR – | US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (d) speaks with
Russian, Vasily Nebenzya (g) and Chinese counterparts Liu Jieyi
(c) after a meeting of the Security Council on North Korea,
September 4, 2017 in New York

Japan has revised up its estimate of the power of the
hydrogen bomb that Pyongyang blew up on Sunday: according to
Tokyo, it reaches 120 kilotonnes, eight times higher than that
of the American bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.

“Engaging in military hysteria makes no sense, it is a path
that leads to a stalemate,” Vladimir Putin warned from China,
where he attended the summit of the Brics which brings together
the emerging powers (Brazil , Russia, India, China, South
Africa). While condemning the North Korean tests, the Russian
president said that a military response could “lead to a global
catastrophe and a large number of victims.”

– ‘Peaceful resolution’ –

Moscow seems to join the Chinese position in favor of a
“peaceful resolution” of the crisis and a resumption of talks
with the North Korean regime. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov insisted on this point on the phone with his American
counterpart Rex Tillerson, advocating “the use of political and
diplomatic means” and calling on Washington to “not yield to
emotions and keep its restraint”.

Ⓒ KCNA VIA KNS/AFP – STR – | An undated photo broadcast by North Korean official
KCNA agency on September 2, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim
Jong-Un with military representatives in Pyongyang

But if Mr. Tillerson opened the door to a future dialogue in
recent weeks, Mr. Trump now believes that “any appeasement will
not work.”

In addition to military pressure, the United States relies
mainly on the “strongest possible” measures against Pyongyang.
Washington wants to negotiate in the coming days at the UN a
new train of sanctions of which it took the initiative – the
eighth – and put it to the vote of the Security Council from
Monday –a call relayed Tuesday by several countries ,
including France and the United Kingdom.

These measures could concern the oil and tourism sectors as
well as the expulsion of expatriates to North Korea after the
sanctions adopted unanimously in early August to deprive the
country of a billion dollars in revenues from its exports of
coal and iron and its fisheries.

But obstacles are already challenging this scenario.

“The use of any sanctions in this case is useless and
ineffective,” said Putin, whose country has a right of veto at
the UN like China, whose position remains as uncertain .

The North Koreans “will not give up their nuclear program if
they do not feel safe,” he said. “It is therefore necessary to
seek a dialogue between all the parties concerned,” the Kremlin
leader said.

Less categorical, the Russian ambassador to the UN at any
rate felt that a vote Monday would be “a little premature”.
Above all, Moscow wants all resolutions to make “reference to
the need for political dialogue based on recent initiatives”,
ie the Russian-Chinese proposal of a freeze of US-South Korean
military maneuvers against a suspension of North Korean
ballistic and nuclear programs.

On Monday, the United States had
bluntly described the proposal as “insulting.” “When a rogue
state has a nuclear weapon and intercontinental missiles
pointed at you, you do not turn down guard,” said US ambassador
to the UN Nikki Haley.

The unity of the Security Council is “absolutely crucial,”
said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday, calling
on the permanent members (United States, Russia, China, the
United Kingdom and France) to ” agree on a single strategy to
negotiate “with Pyongyang.

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