Putin says Korea conflict would be worse than Chernobyl

HANOVER, Germany Mon Apr 8, 2013 6:25am EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during the official opening of the Hanover Messe, industrial trade fair, in Hanover April 7, 2013. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during the official opening of the Hanover Messe, industrial trade fair, in Hanover April 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer

HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern on Monday about the escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and said conflict there could cause greater devastation than the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

"I would make no secret about it, we are worried about the escalation on the Korean peninsula, because we are neighbors," Putin told a joint news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to a trade fair in Germany.

"And if, God forbid, something happens, Chernobyl which we all know a lot about, may seem like a child's fairy tale. Is there such a threat or not? I think there is," he said.

Chernobyl in Ukraine was the site of the worst nuclear power disaster in history in April 1986 when one of its reactors exploded during a safety experiment, sending out a plume of highly radioactive fallout.

Large areas of Ukraine, neighboring Belarus and Russia were contaminated. Radioactive dust also spread across parts of western Europe.

Putin, whose vast country shares a border with North Korea, urged all protagonists in the Korean crisis to act calmly and to support a diplomatic solution of "problems that have piled up for many years".

The Russian leader praised a U.S. decision at the weekend to postpone a planned missile test as part of efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula.

"I think we should all thank the U.S. leadership for this step. I hope it will be noticed by our North Korean partners, that certain conclusions will be drawn, everyone will calm down and start joint work to ease the situation."

Merkel told the same news conference that North Korea should halt its "provocations".

Speculation has been mounting that North Korea will launch some sort of provocative action in coming days - an arms test or a missile launch - after weeks of bellicose threats against the South and the United States.

The prospect of another test has further boosted tensions, already driven up by Pyongyang's fury over the imposition of new U.S. sanctions after its last nuclear test in February. Earlier on Monday South Korea rebuffed suggestions that a North Korean nuclear arms test may be imminent.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Noah Barkin)

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Comments (1)
SamSly wrote:
North Korea is working on the same assumption as the USA and the Soviets during the utterly absurd nuclear arms race: that the other side is too rational to ever actually use nuclear weapons, while at the same time sending out the subliminal message that they themselves are actually as irrational and unstable as a rattlesnake on meth. Good game theory. Game theory tells us that the best response is Tit for Tat. Be exceptionally nice to them. If they do not reciprocate and do something nasty, respond with something more nasty (not nuclear!) and keep this up until they revert to being nice. Then reward them with an extra helping of niceness. The only thing that can go wrong is if it turns out that the little fat man in in Daddy’s uniform is actually as crazy as he wants us to believe and that his generals actually do revere him as much as they pretend to …

Apr 08, 2013 8:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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