Putin Warns Against Provoking the New N.Korean Regime

      February 28, 2012 12:55

      Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday said the international community cannot accept North Korea's nuclear ambitions but it would be unwise to test the strength of the new regime in the North.

      Putin, who is running for a third term as president in elections on March 4, wrote a 6,000-word article on foreign policy in the Moskovskiye Novosti daily titled "Russia and the Changing World."

      "Violating the non-proliferation regime, Pyongyang openly claims the right to develop 'the military atom' and has already conducted two nuclear tests," Putin writes. "We cannot accept North Korea's nuclear status. We have consistently advocated the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula exclusively through political and diplomatic means -- and the early resumption of six-party talks."

      But, he adds, "It is evident that not all of our partners share this approach. I am convinced that today it is essential to be particularly careful. It would be unadvisable to try and test the strength of the new North Korean leader and provoke a rash countermeasure."

      The Russian premier points out that North Korea and Russia share a common border "and we cannot choose our neighbors. We will continue conducting an active dialogue with the leaders of North Korea and developing good-neighborly relations with it, while at the same time trying to encourage Pyongyang to settle the nuclear issue."

      In a barb evidently aimed at the U.S., Putin warns that foreign interventionism probably exacerbates nuclear proliferation. "It seems that the more frequent cases of crude and even armed outside interference in the domestic affairs of countries may prompt authoritarian (and other) regimes to possess nuclear weapons," and such intervention is "why the number of threshold countries that are one step away from 'military atom' technology, is growing rather than decreasing," because they feel that they will be left alone if they demonstrably have nuclear weapons, while those without can expect an invasion.

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