Russia warns of "catastrophic consequences" if Korean dispute descends into war

South Korea’s foreign minister has warned that a war in the region would be devastating

Russia warns of "catastrophic consequences" if Korean dispute descends into war

North Koreans gather at Kim Il Sung Square to attend a mass rally against America, 23-09-2017. Image: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Russia has warned of "catastrophic consequences" if military conflict is allowed to break out on the Korean peninsula.

It comes after South Korea’s foreign minister warned that a war in the region would be devastating for the entire international community.

North Korea warned yesterday that it views US President Donald Trump’s remark that leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” as a declaration of war.

The White House has labelled the claim, “absurd” and insisted it remains focused on a diplomatic solution.

"We have not declared war against North Korea and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Devastating

The South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, wants careful management of the situation:

“There cannot be another outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula,” she said.

“The consequences would be devastating, not just for the Korean Peninsula but for North East Asia and indeed the whole international community.”

The North Korean regime has warned it has the right to shoot down American warplanes in response to the US president’s threats – even if they are in international airspace.

The Pentagon responded with its own warning, saying that if North Korea did not stop its provocative actions, it would make sure the "President is provided with options to deal with Pyongyang."

Dead end

Speaking after the US dispatched bomber jets to South Korea over the weekend, Russia's foreign ministry said Washington's approach was a dead end.

The ministry's Mikhail Ulyanov said the country was working "behind the scenes" to find a political solution, but admitted the use of sanctions against North Korea is almost exhausted.

China echoed Russia's concerns, and said war on the peninsula would have "no winners."

Diplomatic response

Speaking in India, US defence secretary James Mattis stressed that the US wants to resolve the escalating nuclear crisis with North Korea diplomatically.

Praising India's efforts to step up pressure on North Korea over its "dangerous and destabilising behaviour," Mr Mattis added: "We maintain the capability to deter North Korea's most dangerous threats but also to back up our diplomats in a manner that keeps this as long as possible in the diplomatic realm."

Last week, in his first speech to the UN General Assembly, Mr Trump vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea if it continued to threaten the US and its allies.

The Pentagon called Saturday's flight by bombers and fighter jets a "show of force" designed to demonstrate the range of military options available to President Trump.

Additional reporting from IRN ...