North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is preventing the U.S. from launching a first strike against the rogue nation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview Sunday.

“The Americans won’t strike because they know for sure – rather than suspect – that it has atomic bombs,” Lavrov said on Russia’s NTV television. “I’m not defending North Korea right now, I’m just saying that almost everyone agrees with this analysis.”

Lavrov said the U.S. attacked Iraq “solely because they had 100 percent information that there were no weapons of mass destruction left there,” refuting arguments the American government made at the time.

Tensions between the nations ratcheted up this weekend as President Trump and North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho traded threats. On Saturday, Air Force B-1B bombers flew over international waters east of North Korea.

Lavrov said thousands of innocent people will suffer, in North Korea and in bordering South Korea, Japan and even maybe China and Russia, in the absence of a diplomatic solution.

Turning to another source of tension, Lavrov also added that he can’t rule out that the U.S. plans for Syria go beyond fighting terrorism.

The Americans “swear that they have no goal in Syria other than eliminating terrorists,” he said. “When it happens, we’ll see if this was true.”

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