Russia refuses to put pressure on N. Korea for denuclearization

June 11, 2015
Russian Ambassador Alexander Timonin speaks to the press at the Russian Embassy in Seoul on. (Yonhap)

Russian Ambassador Alexander Timonin speaks to the press at the Russian Embassy in Seoul on. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) — International pressure will not lead North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Moscow’s top envoy to Seoul said Thursday, calling for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the issue.

Ambassador Alexander Timonin’s remarks are a clear departure from the stance of South Korea, the United States and Japan, whose nuclear envoys agreed last month to enhance pressure on North Korea amid its continued provocations.

In May, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine underwater and developed technology to miniaturize nuclear weapons.

Timonin said Moscow’s position is “persistent and principled.”

“We are against any pressure on any country,” he told Yonhap News Agency during a function at the Russian Embassy. “All the issues of security must be settled by peaceful, diplomatic means. Because by pressure and by threats, it’s impossible to settle any problem, especially in this region.”

North Korea is already under a wide array of U.N. and other international sanctions for its past missile and nuclear tests.

Timonin, a former Russian ambassador to Pyongyang, called for a swift resumption of the stalled six-party talks aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for economic and political aid.

The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have not been held since late 2008. The U.S. and South Korea demand that North Korea honor its past denuclearization commitments before returning to the negotiating table.

The two Koreas and Russia have also been involved in a trilateral logistics project linking Russia’s border city of Khasan to South Korea via the North Korean port city of Rajin.

Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, who was among the attendees at the Russia Day reception, expressed hope for the project’s success.

“I promise that I will do my best to make this project successful not only for the Korean Peninsula, but also Northeast Asia and Eurasia,” he said in his congratulatory remarks. “We South Korean people are longing for peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula. I hope not only Russia but also everybody here will join us hand in hand on the journey to our dream of unification.”

Russia Day, which falls on June 12, commemorates the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.