Children in a kindergarten

Children in a kindergarten
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has likened the rhetoric between North Korea and the US to a conversation between “hot heads” and compared them to children fighting in..

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has likened the rhetoric between North Korea and the US to a conversation between “hot heads” and compared them to children fighting in the kindergarten.  

Background

In September 2017, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test to date. It was the nation’s most powerful test yet. According to reports, the country detonated a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

An emergency meeting was convened at the UN Security Council in New York. During this meeting Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, said that North Korea was “begging for war.” She said, “War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now but our country's patience is not unlimited."

The UN has imposed harsh sanctions on North Korea that would significantly affect its revenue in exports.

Analysis

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly advocated for North Korea and United States to minimize the harsh rhetoric and seek diplomatic dialogue. He has also noted that sanctions on North Korea were a futile exercise. He said, “They'd rather eat grass than abandon their [nuclear weapons] program unless they feel secure. And what can establish security? The restoration of international law. We should promote dialogue among all interested parties.”

In the past week US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have continued to trade barbs. Trump spoke about destroying North Korea during his address at the UN General Assembly. He also called Kim Jong Un a “madman” on his Twitter account. The North Korean leader responded by accusing Trump of being a “mentally deranged US dotard.”

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has now urged all parties to “calm” down and seek a comprehensive solution. He insinuated that Trump and Kim Jong Un were “hot heads”. He said, “The exchange of threats is quite bad, unacceptable. We have to calm down the hot heads. We continue to strive for the reasonable and not the emotional approach ... of the kindergarten fight between children.”

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho warned that Kim Jong Un could consider a hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific which elicited an immediate condemnation from Japan.

China too has stepped up its efforts to coerce North Korea to deescalate. The nation has announced a restriction on North Korea's oil supply. China will also stop buying textiles, which is projected to hurt the North Korean economy.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the current exchange between US and North Korea is more than just a war of words. The aggressive rhetoric could lead to a miscalculation from either party and result in a military conflict that could engulf the entire Korean peninsula. While behavior of Kim Jong Un is unwarranted, the response from President Trump is also intemperate. By threatening North Korea with “fire and fury” and total annihilation, he is leaving no scope for an interlocutory to mediate. It is not pragmatic to pin the adversary on a wall and then force them to negotiate. We believe that the Russian position is more mature and in sync with how international conflicts must be resolved. Trump’s actions will just provoke Kim Jong Un to be more irrational as he needs a face saver back home. This is the first time that the North Korean leader has made a direct address to an international audience. We feel it merits a thorough and serious consideration. 

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