North Korea is willing to negotiate with the United States on its nuclear program, as long as Russia plays a role in those talks, according to a Russian lawmaker.
“North Korea is currently ready to conduct negotiations with the US with the participation of Russia as a third party," Vitaly Pashin, a member of the Russian legislature, told state-run media following a trip to the Korean Peninsula.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s team has refused to consider direct talks with North Korea until the regime stops testing ballistic missiles and agrees that the negotiations would result in the loss of its nuclear weapons. But the North Koreans have defied that expectation, culminating in the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that seem capable of striking any locale in the United States.
“The North Korean leadership noted that the country is regularly subjected to external aggression on the part of the U.S.,” Pashin said. "According to North Korean representatives, they were forced to demonstrate the ability to adequately respond to any aggression from the U.S., the ability to strike at any territory of America. This is the first missile launch since the last one carried out by North Korea on September 15. Since then, Pyongyang had refrained from military provocations for 75 days awaiting reciprocal steps from the US, which, instead of meeting [North Korea] halfway, announced large-scale surprise military drills.”
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That’s a precise echo of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who accused the United States of using military drills to “bait” the North Koreans into continuing the development of their nuclear weapons program. Lavrov has argued that the Trump team, particularly U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, is looking for an excuse to invade North Korea.
"If somebody is very eager to use force to wipe out North Korea, as the United States’ UN envoy has said (a very bloodthirsty tirade it was), I believe that it was a big mistake and an attempt to play with fire,” Lavrov said Friday. “We will do our utmost to not let this happen and to ensure the problem be resolved exclusively by peaceful political and diplomatic means.”
Haley warned the UN Security Council that North Korea’s continued aggression makes war more likely. “We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday,” she said. “And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”