North Korea Nuclear Situation Could Become 'Apocalyptic,' Top Russian Diplomat Warns

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The tense situation over North Korea's nuclear program could evolve into an "apocalyptic" scenario, a top Russian diplomat warned in Seoul on Monday.  Getty Images

The tense situation surrounding North Korea's nuclear program could evolve into an "apocalyptic" scenario, a top Russian diplomat warned on Monday.

The world "cannot turn [a] blind eye" to such a situation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said at the opening of the eighth annual Asian Conference of the Valdai Discussion Cub, which is being held in Seoul, South Korea, CNBC reports.

"I hope that a common sense, pragmatism and an instinct of self-preservation would prevail among our partners," Morgulov added.

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Despite international pressure, Kim Jong Un's regime refuses to cease its nuclear program. Getty Images

The Russian diplomat's remarks come amid global concerns over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's refusal to abandon his nuclear ambitions despite mounting international pressure. North Korea has conducted a record number of long-range missile tests this year, and in early September it carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

The tensions have deepened as Kim and President Donald Trump have traded numerous threats and insults. Over the summer, Trump warned Pyongyang it would be met with "fire and fury" if it didn't stop threatening the U.S. In late September, while addressing the United Nations for the first time, he threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it forced the U.S. to defend itself or its allies.

As Trump traveled across Asia during the first half of November, North Korea was at the top of his agenda. In a speech to South Korea's National Assembly, he denounced Kim's regime but also offered the erratic leader a path to peace if he agreed to cease long-range missile tests and move toward denuclearization. North Korea rejected his offer and said the president had "begged" for nuclear war during his Asia trip. Shortly after returning from his trip, Trump placed North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on November 20.

China, which is North Korea's top trading partner and most important ally, has tried to pressure Pyongyang to change its stance. But a recent visit from a senior Chinese envoy to the North Korean capital appears to have been unsuccessful. Correspondingly, China recently shut down the main road connecting it with North Korea, and the state-owned airline Air China suspended flights from Beijing to the reclusive nation.

What's more, South Korea accused North Korea on Monday of violating the armistice agreement between the countries when a North Korean soldier was wounded by gunfire as he ran across the border and defected in mid-November.

In this context, Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, seems to be quite concerned about what might happen moving forward.

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On November 24, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the U.S. of trying to provoke a war with North Korea. Getty Images

On November 24, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the U.S. of attempting to provoke a war with Pyongyang.

"We are alarmed that in the last two months when North Korea conducted no tests or rocket launches, it seemed that Washington was not happy about that and tried to do things that would irritate and provoke Pyongyang," Lavrov said. "It's as if [U.S. officials] are hoping that [North Korea] will lash out again, and then it would be possible to engage in military options."