ХIAMEN, China (Reuters) - Russia criticized the reaction of the United States and its allies to the latest and most powerful North Korean nuclear test, and warned on Monday that any mis-step could be highly dangerous.
“It’s clear in the current situation any clumsy step could lead to an explosion, a political explosion, a military explosion and not just to a nuclear test explosion,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters at a summit of the BRICS group of countries in China.
North Korea’s test, of what it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, prompted global condemnation and drew a warning of a “massive” military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened.
“There shouldn’t be room for escalation. Those who are smarter and stronger should show restraint,” Ryabkov said.
Washington said it could respond to the new threat by imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang. It is discussing expanding military cooperation with South Korea, which is deploying the THAAD U.S. anti-missile defense system - something that Russia and China strongly oppose.
Ryabkov called Washington’s talk of sanctions unfortunate, and said no country had the right to take unilateral action.
He said sanctions previously imposed on North Korea had already reached the limit of their impact. New ones could only damage North Korea’s economy but not undermine its military capabilities.
Russia and China are among the few countries that have economic ties with the isolated state, and they have repeatedly called for patience in resolving the crisis. Both share concerns about the deployment of THAAD.
“If all of this would develop with this alarming speed, it inevitably will raise the question about our reaction in the military sense, about creating counter-balances,” Ryabkov said. He added that Moscow did not consider North Korea as a threat, at least to Russia.
Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Mark Trevelyan