| Putin at a televised question-and-answer show in Moscow on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Seoul, Oct. 25 (Reuters): North Korea should not be backed into a corner over its nuclear test if the global community wants to resolve the crisis over the North’s atomic ambitions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today.
Hours later, North Korea said any participation by South Korea in US-led sanctions would be seen as a serious provocation leading to a “crisis of war” on the Korean peninsula.
Putin, referring to six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme, said one of the reasons Pyongyang had resorted to conducting the test was that “not all participants in negotiations were able to find the correct tone...”
“You must never push one of the participants in talks into a corner and place it in a situation from which it can find no way out other than boosting tension,” he said answering questions on live television.
The UN Security Council voted on October 14 to impose financial and arms sanctions on North Korea after it staged the nuclear test, but just what those sanctions meant and how they would be implemented was still a matter of debate.
A South Korean task force met yesterday and was drawing up an implementation report to complement work in the Security Council this week to draw up lists of banned goods and identify targets of financial sanctions, the foreign ministry said.
Luxury goods were banned by the resolution, as was most trade, travel and financial transactions related to the arms trade. Interdiction — stopping ships or trucks to and from North Korea for inspection — was voluntary and still under discussion.
North Korea warned its neighbour against imposing sanctions.
“South Korea, forced by the US, has already halted inter-Korea humanitarian projects and is moving to stop cooperation in other areas. The South is even revealing an intention to join US-led military operations aimed at blockade against us.
“South Korea’s participation in the US racket to put pressure upon the North... is a serious provocation leading to a crisis of war on the Korean peninsula,” a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying.
“If South Korea joins the US ploy to pressure us, we will consider it as a declaration of a showdown and take corresponding actions,” the spokesman added.
Japan’s defence ministry could not confirm media reports that Tokyo was considering deploying several destroyers and patrol aircraft to its western and southern coasts to conduct warning and surveillance activities.
Japan’s defence minister, Fumio Kyuma, indicated it all depended on the US. “Japan must keep a close eye on what America decides to do and if it goes ahead must cooperate in various ways or carry out activities of its own,” Kyuma said. North Korea blamed the US for creating the crisis.
“The world has been pushed into the vortex of nuclear arms race by the nuclear strong-arm policy of the US based on double standards,” said the Communist Party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun.
Position of influence
Putin told Russians today he would retain political influence after he steps down in 2008, but stopped short of defining what role he might take on. He stuck by his commitment not to tinker with the constitution and stay on for a third successive term from 2008 “even though I like the work”.