Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions at a news conference following his visit to China to take part in the BRICS Summit. Excerpt:
Question: Returning to the DPRK, what is your position? It looks like neither talks (the diplomatic process), nor threats, nor sanctions work. How can the DPRK situation be resolved?
Vladimir Putin: This is the simplest question today.
I discussed this with my colleagues in private, but I do not think there is any need to conceal anything here. I will repeat what I said in private and official conversations, and, in fact, what everyone should be aware of and anyone with common sense should understand.
Everyone remembers well what happened to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Hussein abandoned the production of weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, under the pretext of searching for these weapons, Saddam Hussein himself and his family were killed during the well-known military operation.
Even children died back then. His grandson, I believe, was shot to death. The country was destroyed, and Saddam Hussein was hanged. Listen, everyone is aware of it and everyone remembers it. North Koreans are also aware of it and remember it. Do you think that following the adoption of some sanctions, North Korea will abandon its course on creating weapons of mass destruction?
Russia condemns these exercises on the part of North Korea. We believe they are provocative in nature. However, we cannot forget about what I just said about Iraq, and what happened later in Libya. Certainly, the North Koreans will not forget it.
Sanctions of any kind are useless and ineffective in this case. As I said to one of my colleagues yesterday, they will eat grass, but they will not abandon this programme unless they feel safe.
What can ensure security? The restoration of international law. We need to advance towards dialogue between all parties concerned. It is important for all participants in this process, including North Korea, not to have any thoughts about the threat of being destroyed; on the contrary, all sides to the conflict should cooperate.
In this environment, in this situation, whipping up military hysteria is absolutely pointless; it is a dead end. Besides, North Korea has not only medium-range missiles and nuclear weapons, we know they have that, but they also have long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers with a range of up to 60 kilometres.
It is pointless to use missile defence systems against these weapons. There are no weapons in the world that can counteract long-range artillery or multiple rocket launchers. And they can be located in such a way that they are virtually impossible to find.
In this context, military hysteria will do no good, but may lead to a global, planet-wide disaster and enormous casualties.
Diplomacy is the only way to solve the North Korean nuclear problem.