The Kremlin today called for “restraint” after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered that the country’s nuclear arsenal be readied for pre-emptive use at any time.
Kim ordered the North’s nuclear warheads deployed “on standby” in a widely-expected uptick in military sabre-rattling from Pyongyang following the UN Security Council’s adoption of tough new sanctions.
“We are following the development of the situation very closely and hope that all the countries in the region and third countries will maintain restraint and equanimity in this difficult situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Bellicose rhetoric is almost routine for North Korea at times of elevated tensions.
While the North is known to have a small stockpile of nuclear warheads, experts are divided about its ability to mount them on a working missile delivery system.
Russia—which enjoys friendly ties with the Stalinist regime—backed the tough UN measures against North Korea on Wednesday, after arduous negotiations between the United States and Pyongyang’s main backer China.
Hours after the United Nations adopted the sanctions, North Korea fired six short-range projectiles into the sea in a new show of defiance.
The latest resolution ushered in the fifth set of UN sanctions on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.
The measures are the toughest sanctions to date on North Korea and ban or restrict exports of coal, iron and other minerals from the isolated country, among other restrictions.