Russia Warns Trump: Collapse of Iran Deal Would Discourage North Korea From Stopping Nukes

'We have to calm down the hot heads,' Russia's Lavrov says, after North Korea threatens to test 'most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific'

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP

Russia's foreign minister said on Friday the leaders of North Korea and the United States should tone down their bellicose rhetoric and warned that a collapse of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers would only embolden Pyongyang.

"The exchange of threats is quite bad, unacceptable," Sergei Lavrov told reporters at a news conference." We have to calm down the hot heads," Lavrov said, adding that he was convinced a Russian-Chinese proposal could still pave the way for a diplomatic solution to the North Korea crisis.

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Lavrov added that a collapse of the Iran nuclear deal would give North Korea little incentive to drop its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump said Iran’s 2015 pact with six world powers to curb its nuclear program in return for loosening economic sanctions was “an embarrassment to the United States”. Washington could not abide by an agreement “if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program,” Trump said.

Lavrov, whose country is a signatory to the deal, said Russia strongly disagreed with that stance on Wednesday.

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 “It’s extremely worrying,” he said. “We will defend this document, this consensus, which was met with relief by the entire international community and genuinely strengthened both regional and international security.”

Trump’s threat in the same UN appearance to “totally destroy” North Korea if it had to defend itself or it allies also went down badly with Russia, which shares a border with North Korea and believes negotiations and diplomacy are the only way to resolve a crisis over Pyongyang’s missile program.

Korea's foreign minister, asked on a visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly what the countermeasure would be, said his country may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

"I think it could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific," Ri Yong Ho said, according to South Korean TV. "We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un."

North Korean state TV later showed a solemn-looking Kim, dressed in a gray Mao-style suit, reading the statement. South Korea's government said it was the first direct address to the world by any North Korean leader.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "the mentally deranged U.S. dotard"Credit: /AP

Some analysts saw a clear sign that North Korea will ramp up its already brisk pace of weapons testing, which has included missiles meant to target U.S. forces throughout Asia and on the U.S. mainland.

An H-bomb test in the Pacific, if realized, would be considered a major provocation by Washington and its allies. North Korea has conducted six nuclear test explosions since 2006, all at its northeastern underground test site.

“If you simply condemn and threaten, then we’re going to antagonize countries over whom we want to exert influence,” said Lavrov, referring to Trump’s comments.

Lavrov has met U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson twice in New York this week.

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