Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons program because Pyongyang views its missiles and atomic weapons as its only means of self-defense.
“They (the North Koreans) view the possession of atomic weapons and missile technology as their only means of protection. Do you think they’ll give it up now?” the Russian president said during the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok on Thursday.
“It’s impossible to scare them,” he added.
The Russian president said North Korea was being provocative by advancing its missile and military nuclear programs but said any escalation of the dispute with Pyongyang would be “counter-productive.”
“The build-up of some military atmosphere, of hysteria, is counter-productive, in my opinion. It will lead to nothing, because what is happening now, of course, is a provocation from North Korea. This is quite obvious. They are provoking the situation, but if they are doing it, they are not stupid people, believe me. So, they expect the corresponding reaction from [their] partners, and they achieve it,” Putin said.
The Russian president repeated his stance that it is possible to resolve the dispute through diplomatic means, stressing that the issue was a top priority for development in East Asia.
There has been an uproar over Pyongyang’s sixth and the biggest nuclear test to date, which was conducted on September 3.
Earlier, North Korea had tested a missile by firing it through Japanese airspace, angering Tokyo and its ally the United States.
Tensions have been especially high between the US and North Korea. Washington has military presence on the Korean Peninsula and has threatened the North with military action over its weapons programs.
Japan urges ‘greatest possible pressure’ on North Korea
Also on Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Russia for the EEF, called on the international community to “unite in applying the greatest possible pressure on North Korea” to have it abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
“We must make North Korea immediately and fully comply with all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and abandon all its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner,” Abe said.
“North Korea is escalating an overt challenge to the peace, prosperity, law and order of the region and indeed the entire world,” he said.
North Korea is already under mounting international pressure over its missile and military nuclear programs and has been subjected to an array of sanctions by the United Nations. However, Pyongyang says it needs to continue and develop the programs as a deterrent against hostility by the United States and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.