Lavrov Rules Out Support for Sanctions Seeking to 'Suffocate' N Korea's Economy

Russia will not support the introduction of sanctions against North Korea which would "suffocate" the country’s economy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Earlier in the day, South Korea's Bank of Korea (BOK) said in a report that despite international sanctions North Korean economy increased by 3.9 percent in 2016, showing a record-high growth in 17 years.

"When proposals have been put on the table basically designed to completely suffocate North Korean economy prohibiting any imports from North Korea, any exports into North Korea, any transport links with North Korea, prohibiting any contacts with anybody of any importance in the leadership of North Korea, we cannot obviously support this kind of the approach because it contradicts the basic premise. 

The basic premise being that we have to stop nuclear and missile programs but we cannot do this at the expense of hundreds and thousands of lives of North Koreans," Lavrov told the NBC network.

Lavrov noted that Russia had consistently supported all UN Security Council resolutions aiming to halt North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

"And it was agreed from the very beginning that all these sanctions would be targeted to make it impossible to continue with these programs. 

The people who have been engaged with these programs, who are engaged with these programs, the people who provide finances for these [programs], you know, the targets of the sanctions must be related, must be linked to what has been prohibited by the Security Council," he added.

Two weeks ago, leaders of the United States, Japan and South Korea met on the sidelines of the G20 summit and agreed to press for prompt adoption of a new resolution by the UN Security Council that would impose additional sanctions on North Korea. 

France and the United Kingdom have also called for new restrictive measures against Pyongyang.