13:24 GMT +315 December 2017
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    Russian Legislators Balk at US Openness to Seoul, Tokyo Developing Nuclear Bombs

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    If South Korea and Japan decide to obtain nuclear weapons, they, like North Korea, will face international sanctions in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the Russian Upper House's International Affairs Committee, said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks on the matter.

    RIA Novosti quoted Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy head of the Russian Upper House's International Affairs Committee, as saying South Korea and Japan will almost certain face international sanctions in accordance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty if they decide to build their own nuclear weapons.

    The statement came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that he did not rule out the possibility of Washington's allies in Asia obtaining nuclear weapons in order to address the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

    When asked if he would rule out the nuclearization of US allies in the region, Tillerson told Fox News in an interview that "nothing has been taken off the table."

    He said that the US is against a conflict with North Korea, however, it is not ruling out new, broader UN sanctions against Pyongyang because of its missile and nuclear programs.

    He added that Washington would like to see a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, but added that it might become necessary to accept Japan becoming a nuclear power if the situation unfolded unfavorably.

    "In this case, Russia could turn to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," Dzhabarov said, citing international sanctions against North Korea.

    According to him, the treaty stipulates that the same sanctions could be levied against Japan and South Korea if they possess nuclear weapons.

    Dzhabarov said he believes that Tillerson's proposal is unlikely to be supported by the international community, since "China does not need the emergence of new nuclear powers in its backyard."

    He described Tillerson's statement as a kind of attempt to lay the groundwork (for a new geopolitical reality in the region); something that he said was made in connection with North Korea's latest ballistic missile tests.

    Franz Klintsevich, first deputy head of the Russian Upper House's Committee on Defense and Security, said for his part that the US attempt to operate outside the norms of international politics (by allowing countries to side-step international anti-proliferation treaties) is "the worst thing imaginable."

    According to him, it's too early to accuse Washington of upsetting the established order, but "the first wake-up call has already sounded."

    "I do not admit that the United States is really considering the possibility of South Korea and Japan obtaining nuclear weapons. However, Rex Tillerson's statement is alarming," Klintsevich was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

    He added that it's unclear whether Tillerson's statement was addressed to North Korea, Russia or China.

    "Pyongyang has long been afraid of nothing and I even do not rule out that after this statement, North Korea will launch another ballistic missile. If Tillerson's statement was addressed to China or Russia, it makes one think seriously," he said.

    North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005. The United States, Japan and South Korea, as well as Russia and China, took part in talks with Pyongyang between 2003 and 2009 on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, but North Korea withdrew from the negotiations.

    Since the beginning of 2016, North Korea has carried out a number of missile launches and nuclear tests, with the latest being the launch of four missiles in the direction of the Sea of Japan, conducted on March 6, 2017, leading to escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

    In December 2016, the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea, which aim to cut the country's export revenue in response to its repeated nuclear tests.

    South Korea, Japan and the US subsequently announced harsher, unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, which include blacklisting entities and individuals who facilitate the North's nuclear activities and trade.

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    international community, proposal, nuclear weapons, sanctions, Rex Tillerson, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), China, Japan, United States, Russia, South Korea
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