Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the world against trying to “intimidate” North Korea as the rogue nation makes inroads into developing a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
President Putin, speaking in Beijing, said Moscow is opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, but that the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.
The Russian leader’s comments come just days after North Korea successfully tested a mid-range missile that landed in the Sea of Japan just 500 kilometres off the Russian coastline.
Mr Putin said nuclear tests of the type that Pyongyang had been carrying out in recent weeks were unacceptable, but that a peaceful solution to rising tensions on the Korean peninsula was needed.
“I want to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, including with the Korean Peninsula and North Korea,” he said, adding that any such move would be “harmful and dangerous”.
“But at the same time, we understand that what we have observed in the world recently, and specifically flagrant violations of international law and incursions into the territory of foreign states, changes in regime, lead to such kinds of arms races.”
Mr Putin did not specify what countries he had in mind, but he has in the past repeatedly criticised the US for military operations in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and accused it of trying to oust legitimate governments.
“In this connection, we need to act in a joined-up way, (and) strengthen the system of international guarantees with the help of international law and with the help of the UN Charter,” he said.
“We need to return to dialogue with North Korea and stop scaring it and find ways to resolve these problems peacefully.”
New generation of missile
“If you recall, there was a time when North Korea announced it was suspending this kind of (nuclear) program, but unfortunately certain participants in the negotiations process did not have enough patience. I think we need to return to this,” he said.
Mr Putin said he was briefed by his defence minister after North Korea’s latest missile test.
“This missile launch presented no threat to us, but it of course escalates this conflict and there is nothing good about that.”