Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the US against the huge militarization of Northeast Asia, calling on Washington to stop using the threat of an alleged attack by North Korea “as a pretext” to deploy an advanced missile system in South Korea.
“It is inadmissible to use this situation as a pretext for the massive militarization of Northeast Asia and deployment of another position area for US global missile defense systems,” he said while addressing the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday.
“All sides must refrain from further escalation of tension and embark on the way toward politico-diplomatic settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula through the resumption of Six-Party talks,” Lavrov added.
Since August 2003, some seven months after Pyongyang withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a series of multilateral negotiations, known as the six-party talks, were held intermittently until 2009, when North Korea walked away from the negotiating table because of fresh US sanctions.
Pyongyang has pledged to develop a nuclear arsenal in a bid to protect itself from the US military, which occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region. These activities have concerned Seoul, a US ally, the most and prompted it to consent to the controversial deployment of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on its soil to further complicate the already volatile situation in the Korean Peninsula.
The system, which has angered the North, will be installed by the end of next year to defend the South against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea as Seoul and Washington claim.
The purpose of the talks, in which China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States participated, was to negotiate the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program and finding a peaceful solution to the security concerns caused by Pyongyang’s nuclear activities.
The UN and the West have so far imposed a raft of crippling sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile activities, but the country says it will not give up on its nuclear “deterrence” unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the North and dissolves the US-led command in South Korea.
“In the enlightened 21st century, it is simply indecent to mentor everyone around, reserving for oneself the right to use doping or launch unilateral adventures bypassing the UN, or conduct geopolitical experiments that cost millions of human lives,” the Russian foreign minister added.
“Unfortunately, the ideas of mentoring, supremacy, exclusiveness, realizing their own interests by any means have been deeply rooted in the minds of political elites of a number of Western countries, to the detriment of the efforts to promote just and equitable cooperation,” Lavrov further said.
On nuclear disarmament
The Russian foreign minister also touched upon the issue of nuclear disarmament, saying the majority of nuclear-armed countries refrain from joining disarmament agreements, with some of them even torpedoing efforts to start negotiations on creating a world free of weapons of mass destruction.
Lavrov added that the advancement toward nuclear disarmament must be made with the full consideration of the whole set of factors that affect strategic stability, including the creation of unilateral missile defense systems, placement of strategic non-nuclear strike weapons, threat of placement of weapons in outer space, inability to ensure the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and growing imbalance in conventional arms in Europe.
He also called for drafting an international convention for suppressing acts of chemical and biological terrorism.
“There is a growing support for a Russian initiative to draft an international convention for the suppression of the acts of chemical and biological terrorism,” Lavrov said, adding, “We call for a substantial examination of our proposals on the improvement of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons.”