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Russia Opposes Hitting North Korea With More Sanctions, Military Action


North Korea's intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12

Russia on August 30 urged against further sanctions or military action against North Korea even as U.S. allies called for more sanctions stiffening limits on Pyongyang's workers in Russia and China.

In a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the United States to refrain from military action or pursuing further sanctions in the wake of North Korea's launch this week of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead over Japan's island of Hokkaido, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

While U.S. President Donald Trump after the launch hinted at the possibility of military action or further sanctions by asserting that "all options are on the table," the United States has not pushed for any further action this week.

Britain and Japan, however, have floated the possibility of further sanctions at the United Nations, arguing that previous measures including limits on North Koreans working abroad have not gone far enough.

"The time is right to consider further constraints on the [Korean] regime, given that the constraints that we have put in place so far have clearly not yet got them to change course." Britain's Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft said in New York on August 30.

"One other thing we could look at is building on the cap on foreign laborers...to see whether we could do more to prevent the flow of money coming into [North Korea from] nationals who are working abroad," he said.

Rycroft was referring to the limit on laborers in an August 5 UN security council resolution that called on all countries to refrain from hiring more of Pyongyang's workers as part of a package of stiff new economic sanctions imposed in response to previous ballistic missiles launches this summer.

UN investigators have said that most of the estimated 60,000 to 100,000 North Koreans who work abroad are employed in Russia and China and earn between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year -- providing a significant infusion of foreign cash for Pyongyang at a time when its access to hard currency is limited by sanctions.

Japan has joined Britain in advocating tighter limits on North Koreans working abroad, and also is suggesting targeting Pyongyang's oil supply and textile exports in a new round of sanctions, Reuters reported.

The UN council on August 29 condemned North Korea's latest "outrageous" missile launch over Japan but refrained from calling for new sanctions and instead called for a resumption of negotiations with Pyongyang.

After the UN's condemnation, Russia's UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said Moscow opposed new sanctions because "sanctions and pressure produce little effect." He called for "peaceful, diplomatic, and political solutions" and said "there is no military solution to the Korean peninsula problems."

Both Russia and China, which also said it opposes further sanctions, have veto power on the UN security council.

Russia's Lavrov also warned the United States against military action against North Korea in his phone call with Tillerson, saying that would be "fraught with unpredictable consequences," Russia's Foreign Ministry said.

Trump had earlier seemed to raise the possibility of military action by tweeting that "talking is not the answer" for dealing with North Korea.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, TASS, and Interfax
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