Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on Monday warned against an apocalyptic scenario developing on the Korean Peninsula, should common sense fail to prevail over the parties involved.
“A scenario of the apocalyptic development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula exists and we cannot turn a blind eye to it,” Morgulov said at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, a Russian-affiliated think tank, in Seoul.
“I hope that a common sense, pragmatism and an instinct for self-preservation would prevail among our partners to exclude such a negative scenario,” the Russian diplomat said, according to a TASS report.
“We have told North Korea many times that [its] nuclear status is unacceptable to us,” Morgulov said. “We continue this work with our North Korean counterparts, presenting to them our position.”
Morgulov, who said Moscow is actively working with Pyongyang to extend North Korea’s unilateral moratorium on missile and nuclear tests continue for as long as possible, pointed out his government’s satisfaction that “North Korea has preserved its discipline of silence for two month already,” implying that the other player in this tense game of nuclear chicken has been less disciplined.
The deputy FM was critical of the Trump administration for maintaining its joint military drills off the Korean Peninsula, despite the two-month lull in North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests.
Ignoring the possibility that it was President Trump’s decision to push back against Pyongyang’s threats over the summer which have resulted in the latter’s decision to deescalate its media confrontations, Morgulov complained about the fact that “considering the two-month long period of [North Korean] silence, the United States is not planning to reduce the scale of its regular military exercises, but instead plans holding sudden drills as well.”
“Unfortunately, this is the answer which North Korea gets in response to its two-month silence,” the Russian diplomat said, adding, “I believe that both the North Korean nuclear tests and the joint military drills of the United States with its allies are definitely of a negative nature.”
“Is it possible for anyone to harbor the illusion that threats from US President Donald Trump to strike with ‘fire and fury’ will be able to cut the knot, which has been tight on the Korean Peninsula for many decades?” Morgulov wondered, suggesting, “I believe it would be naive to hope that any of the sides would give in to the pressure.”
“We must understand that the pressure coincides with a deliberate pushing of North Korea to a humanitarian catastrophe,” Morgulov said. “This will not result in the North Korean authorities giving up missile and nuclear programs, but on the contrary, will only strengthen their resolve to keep them up to the bitter end.”
Instead, Morgulov recommended “the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue [which] could have a positive effect [on settling the conflict].” These two countries have issues to discuss and I know that our South Korean partners are ready for such dialogue and repeatedly expressed their interest in its initiation.”
Meanwhile, the deputy FM said “the United States and its allies should at least reduce the scale of their regular military exercises they are holding in the region of the Korean Peninsula.”