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Lavrov Chides U.S., North Korea For 'Unacceptable' Rhetoric, Urges Both To Step Back


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believes an exchange of insults and threats between the United States and North Korea is "unacceptable" and both sides need to take a step back.

"They've started a scuffle just like children in a kindergarten, and no one can stop them," Lavrov told a press conference following a session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 22.

"It's necessary to cool the hotheads. After all, it has to be understood that there is a need for a pause and for some contacts," he added.

Lavrov's statement came after North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un on September 22 called U.S. President Donald Trump "mentally deranged" because of his warning before the UN this week that the United States would "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacked the United States or its allies.

Kim vowed in an unusual personal statement carried by North Korea's news agency to make Trump "pay dearly" for publicly "insulting" him and his country "in front of the eyes of the world."

Following Kim's threat, his foreign minister told reporters in New York that Pyongyang might conduct its next hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean rather than underground.

Trump responded in kind later in the day.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!" Trump said on Twitter.

Trump a day earlier had imposed the broadest U.S. sanctions to date on North Korea, aimed at forcing banks around the world to stop doing business with Pyongyang if they want to continue doing business with the United States.

Early on September 23, China announced its plans for carrying out the tough limits on oil sales to North Korea and ban on North Korean textile exports approved by the UN Security Council last week in a new series of global sanctions.

Lavrov, in his remarks, tied the situation in North Korea to threats by the United States to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying withdrawal "would send the wrong message" to Pyongyang.

In comments that suggested the United States could withdraw from the deal unless changes are made, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on September 20 that theTrump administration is particularly concerned about the deal's "sunset" clauses.

Those clauses allow restrictions put on Iranian nuclear activities such as uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief to expire after 10 years, in 2025.

The deal stipulates that Tehran must significantly curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from years of punishing economic sanctions.

“If the United States withdraws from the deal in this situation and brings back the unilateral sanctions against Iran that it lifted under this deal two years ago, this would be the absolutely wrong message to North Korea," Lavrov said.

Iran has said it would not be the first to violate the landmark nuclear deal, but that it would respond “decisively and resolutely” to a violation of the pact “by any party.”

The nuclear accord, signed by Russia, the United States, Germany, China, Iran, and Britain, was originally negotiated during former U.S. President Barack Obama's second term in office.

In his September 19 address to the UN General Assembly, Trump referred to the 2015 agreement as "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the U.S. has ever entered. He said it was an "embarrassment to the U.S."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, TASS, and Interfax
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