Russian envoy to Seoul opposes US missile defence in Korean peninsula

Russian Ambassador to Seoul Alexander Timonin has expressed opposition to deploying a US missile defense system. PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL - Russian Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Timonin expressed opposition on Tuesday (Feb 2) to the possible deployment of a US missile defence system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad ), on the Korean peninsula, Xinhua news agency reported, citing local media sources.

Mr Timonin told local reporters in his embassy that the Thaad deployment would neither lend any help to peace and stability in North-east Asia, nor provide any benefit to resolve the nuclear issue on the peninsula. He called for all relevant parties to exercise restraint, especially in military areas, in order to prevent any acts that can worsen regional situations.

His comments came amid rising calls here for the Thaad deployment after North Korea's fourth nuclear test in early January. Pyongyang claimed on Jan 6 that it had tested its first hydrogen bomb.

South Korea's Defence Ministry said during a regular press briefing on Monday that overlapping operations of the Thaad and its indigenous missile defence system would help defend South Korea against the North's nuclear and missile threats.

It was a repetition of the ministry's position expressed last Friday, marking a sharp turn from its earlier stance that it can cover Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats with its own missile defence system, called the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), which is now being developed.

Mr Timonin said that he was seeing a rising number of contacts between agencies of Seoul and Washington relevant to the issue, and expressed hope that the Thaad deployment would not have a negative impact on ties between Seoul and Moscow. His remarks indicated a negative effect of the Thaad introduction on bilateral relations.

On the penalties against North Korea's fourth nuclear test, Mr Timonin said the six-party talks are the most effective way to resolve the peninsula's nuclear issue, noting that Russia has almost the same opinion as China over ways and tools of resolving the peninsula's nuclear issue.

He said Russia has always opposed and remains opposed to bilateral sanctions on Pyongyang athough Moscow joined UN Security Council resolutions, as bilateral sanctions can cause more severe isolation of North Korea and this may have a negative effect on resolving the nuclear issue.

The six-party talks, which involves South Korea, North Korea, China, the United States, Russia and Japan, have been suspended since late 2008.

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