Russia has urged the international community to find more “creative” ways to respond to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions than merely imposing sanctions on the country.
“The current situation shows that diplomats should be more creative than just responding by sanctions, sanctions and sanctions again on any aggravation of the situation,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint news conference with his American counterpart John Kerry in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday.
“We are working on that, and we believe that it is too early to bury the six-party talks. We should look for ways that would allow us to resume them,” he added.
The six-party talks were a series of multilateral negotiations held intermittently from August 2003, some seven months after Pyongyang withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), until 2009, when North Korea walked away from the negotiating table because of fresh US sanctions.
The purpose of the talks, comprising China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, had been 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.
Lavrov’s comments come a day after North Korea confirmed it had conducted a successful “nuclear warhead explosion,” its fifth nuclear test so far and its second in the current year, saying it was meant to counter US hostility.
South Korean authorities had earlier in the day said they believed North Korea had performed its biggest nuclear test to date after detecting an “artificial earthquake,” measuring over 5.0 on the Richter scale at the North’s Punggye-ri testing site.
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. North Korea is also unhappy with the joint military drills held in the Korean Peninsula by Seoul and Washington as well as their plan to deploy THAAD missile systems in the region.
Kerry also told reporters that the US had repeatedly offered to hold more negotiations with Pyongyang but said North Korea had to accept to denuclearize, which it had refused to do.
“We have made overture after overture to the dictator of North Korea,” he said, adding, “Our hope is that ultimately we can get back to the talks. We’re prepared to go back right away. All [North Korea’s leader] Kim Jong-un has to do is say, ‘I’m prepared to talk about denuclearization.’”
The UN and the West have so far imposed a raft of crippling sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to bar it from pursuing its nuclear and missile programs, but the measures instead, have prompted the country to further boost such activities.
The UN Security council on Friday announced that it would begin to prepare a fresh round of sanctions against Pyongyang in the wake of its recent nuclear test.