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Risks of nuclear war between N Korea and US are high

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that risks of conflict between the US and North Korea turning into a full-fledged war are high, this would involve a huge number of victims.

The risks are very high, especially regarding the rhetoric [between the two countries]. We hear direct threats to use force. At the same time, US Secretary of Defense Mattis stated once again: Yes, this will involve a huge number of human casualties, and yet talks about a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, talks in Pyongyang, that it is necessary to strike the island of Guam, where several US military bases are located, do not stop,” Lavrov said.

Of course, this concerns us very much,” Lavrov said at a forum, adding that when it almost comes to a fight “the first step away from danger should be taken by the stronger, smarter side.

The Russian top diplomat also said that Moscow is hoping that common sense will prevail in the situation around North Korea despite escalated rhetoric on part of both Pyongyang and Washington.

Unfortunately, the rhetoric in Washington and Pyongyang is beginning to turn extreme. We are still expecting common sense to prevail,” Lavrov said at a youth forum in Russia’s Vladimir region.

Russia has repeatedly voiced concern over the escalation on the Korean peninsula. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow earlier this summer, the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries issued a joint statement proposing ways to de-escalate the situation. Moscow and Beijing called on Pyongyang to stop nuclear tests and urged Washington and Seoul to refrain from conducting joint drills. At the same time, Sergei Lavrov stated, that Russia will not accept North Korea being in possession of nuclear weapons.

North Korea said on Wednesday that it was considering a missile attack near the US island of Guam, which hosts several US military bases after President Donald Trump threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury” over its recurring missile tests.

Tensions in the region have recently intensified due to North Korea’s multiple nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches conducted in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Last month, Pyongyang conducted two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. According to the Korean Central News Agency, the latest launch on July 28 was successful, and the missile reached the altitude of 3,725 kilometers and traveled 998 kilometers, for about 47 minutes, before falling into the Sea of Japan.

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Israel Will Never Allow Iran’s Bases in Syria

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The Israeli Prime minister met with the Russian defense minister to discuss the situation in Syria, as well as the Iran nuclear deal in light of the US decision not to certify the agreement. Israel would not allow Iran’s permanent military presence in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said during talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, adding that Tehran “must understand this.”

Commenting on the agenda of his meeting with Shoigu, the Israeli prime minister said that the talks were dedicated to “above all, Iran’s attempts to establish military bases in Syria.”

Netanyahu earlier stated Israel “will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces.”
The Russian Defense Ministry is yet to comment on Israel’s concerns over Iran’s actions in Syria. Commeting on the negotiations, the Russian deputy defense minister has said that Shoigu and Netanyahu had “expressed confidence that the meetings held on the Israeli soil will give an additional impetus to the development of Russian-Israeli cooperation.”

Israel has been long opposing Iran’s and Lebanon-based Hezbollah’s presence in Syria. Iran has been providing support to the Syrian government in its fight against various terrorist groups, including Daesh, and acts alongside Russia and Turkey as one of the guarantor states of the ceasefire in Syria. Tehran has repeatedly refuted media reports claiming that its military had conducted independent operations in Syria.

During his September meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of building sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce missiles allegedly aiming to eradicate Israel. When asked to comment on the statement, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow has “no information that someone is preparing an attack on Israel.”

Iran Nuclear Deal

The Israeli prime minister and the Russian defense minister have also discussed the US president’s decision not to certify the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu has reiterated Tel Aviv’s stance, warning of Iran potentially acquiring nuclear weapons if the deal isn’t changed. During his UNGA speech in September, Netanyahu has again addressed the threat Israel believes Iran poses to its security. According to him, the nuclear deal with Iran must be changed or canceled entirely.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced support for Israel’s stance on the nuclear agreement, calling it a “bad deal for Israel.”

On October 16, Trump suggested that Washington might unilaterally exit the agreement despite Rex Tillerson’s earlier comments, saying that the United States will try to negotiate the agreement, which is, according to him, in the best interests of his country.

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Iran Pledges to Confront Israel After Attack on Syrian Air Defense

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Iran’s Military Chief has warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace in the wake of this week’s attack of Israeli Air Force on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria.

“It’s not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants,” Baqeri said during a news conference with his Syrian counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Damascus on Wednesday, and promised to increase cooperation with the Syrian military “to confront our common enemies, the Zionists and terrorists”.

The sides established the board lines for this cooperation.

The comments of the Iran’s Chief of Staff come in the follow up to the attack of the Israeli Air Force on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria, which had allegedly shelled at Israeli warplanes as they were conducting a reconnaissance mission at the Syria-Lebanon border.

The Syrian Army however said the Israeli aircraft violated Syria’s airspace near the border with Lebanon in the early hours of Monday and therefore had been attacked by its defense systems.

Israeli Air Forces earlier said that its jets have struck Hezbollah and Syrian military facilities and convoys nearly 100 times during the six-year-long war, with the goal of preventing the transfer of weapons from Iran to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group.

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