MOSCOW, July 21. /TASS/. Moscow shared with Washington data indicating that North Korea’s missile test-launched in early June was not an intercontinental missile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with NBC on Friday.
When asked whether the crisis on the Korean Peninsula could be resolved through the regime change, he answered in the negative. "We don’t believe in regime change anywhere," he stressed.
"I hear very enthusiastic voices in the United States, including in some parts of this administration, that the patience has been over and they must do something because the threat is growing and growing and an intercontinental ballistic missile was launched," Lavrov said, adding that, according to Russia’s data, the missile was not intercontinental.
"By the way, we provided to the US on that very day when the presidents met in Hamburg, our military provided to the Pentagon our objective data we received from our radars located just on the border with North Korea. And, according to that data, it is not an intercontinental missile," he said. "But the Americans say they have their own calculations."
He also stressed that Russia has supported all United Nations Security Council resolutions geared to freeze North Korea’s nuclear program. He reminded that initially the sanctions were meant only against those who are linked with the development and financing of the nuclear program. However, further sanctions seemed to target the entire North Korean economy by banning all imports to and exports from the country and prohibiting all contacts with North Korean leaders. Russia, in his words, cannot support such approach.
Korean Central Television (KCTV) said on July 4 the country had successfully launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong 14. The missile reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers and flew 933 kilometers within 29 minutes. The Pentagon confirmed the missile had been intercontinental, while Russia’s Defense Ministry said the missile’s performance indicated that it was an intermediate-range missile.
Controversy over the type of North Korea’s missile continued at the emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the following day. Russia’s position voiced by deputy Representative to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov came under criticism from his US colleague, Nikki Haley who said she was ready to provide US intelligence data to prove that it had been an intercontinental missile.
On the same day, Russia and China came up with a joint initiative aiming to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. They called on North Korea to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for the United States’ and South Korea’s suspension of joint military drills. The initiative however won no support from the United States.