08:55 GMT22 September 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia is closer to North Korea's nuclear test range than other countries, there is a threat to Russia's security, Russian Ambassador to Pyongyang Alexander Matsegora told Sputnik in an interview.

    "Russia is the closest to their nuclear test range (some 150 kilometers to the Russian border) and to the water area where North Korean missiles fall," Matsegora said, adding that there is a threat to Russia's security.

    He said Moscow is aware which missiles and technology North Korea possesses, adding that Pyongyang does not notify Russia in advance of its plans to fire missiles or hold nuclear tests.

    Russia's Role in US-North Korea Conflict

    Matsegora said that Moscow is not seeing itself as a mediator in the bilateral contacts between the United States and North Korea, noting that Pyongyang had not requested Russia’s mediation on the issue.

    “We are ready to facilitate the settlement from the point of view of making proposals. We can say that the Russian-Chinese roadmap is a kind of such proposal for mediation,” Matsegora said.

    A man watches a television news programme showing US President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) at a railway station in Seoul on August 9, 2017
    © AFP 2020 / JUNG Yeon-Je
    A man watches a television news programme showing US President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) at a railway station in Seoul on August 9, 2017

    'Double Freeze' Plan

    He went on to add that the DPRK did not reject a roadmap on the Korean peninsula settlement proposed by Russia and China, but Pyongyang has its "own approaches, their own priorities, but they have not rejected our plan," according to Matsegora.

    This peace initiative called "Double freeze" plan was proposed by Moscow and Beijing last July. It stipulates that Pyongyang stops nuclear tests and missile launches in exchange for Seoul and Washington abstaining from carrying out joint drills.

    Ban on Oil Supplies to North Korea

    Matsegora said that “North Korea is already experiencing an acute shortage of gasoline and diesel fuel, which leads to serious problems, including humanitarian ones. It should not be reduced further.”

    The Russian diplomat explained that under the quotas established by the latest resolution of the UN Security Council North Korea could import some 540,000 tons of crude oil via the pipeline from China and slightly more than 60,000 tons of oil products from Russia, China and other countries per year. According to the ambassador, it was “a drop in the bucket” given that the country has the population of 25 million people.

    "If oil and oil products supplies are ceased, this will mean a complete blockade of North Korea… Pyongyang’s official representatives have repeatedly stated that the blockade will be perceived by North Korea as a declaration of war with all the attendant consequences."

    At the same time, the diplomat called the allegations that Russia provides its ports to North Korea for coal shipments "groundless," adding that the US authorities' information related to the issue have not been confirmed.

    "However, whenever we checked this information, it was found out that the mentioned vessels did not enter our ports, and if they did, they were carrying cargoes or came for cargoes that had nothing to do with North Korea," Matsegora said.

    On Monday, the US State Department said that Washington had warned Moscow of “the illicit North Korean coal trading through its ports.” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Russia was not complying with the UN Security Council's sanctions on North Korean exports of coal and there were no more excuses for these violations.


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