MOSCOW, October 4. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he was told personally about an existence of a nuclear bomb in North Korea by the country’s ex-leader, Kim Jong-il, back at the beginning of 2000s.
"In 2001, when I was on my way to pay a visit to Japan, I made a stop in North Korea, where I had a meeting with the father of the country’s current leader," Putin said. "It was back then when he told me that they had a nuclear bomb. Moreover, (South Korean capital of) Seoul was within the hitting range of their standard artillery systems at that time."
"When was that? In 2001! It is 2017 already, the country has been living under permanent sanctions and instead of a nuclear bomb they have now a hydrogen bomb," the Russian president said.
"However, it was decided literally a week later to block the accounts of North Korean banks, because someone felt the obligations assumed by North Korea are not enough, that it can and should do more. But that was precisely what they agreed on. What was the reason for provoking them? They immediately withdrew from all agreements and began developing their nuclear program. Now we have what we have," Putin said.
Vladimir Putin said he believed he had no right to assess the policy of US President Donald Trump towards North Korea but all the sides should tone down the belligerent rhetoric around the situation in the region.
"Whatever it is, this is not my business to determine and assess the policy of the president of the United States but publicly I can repeat, and I already spoke about this, all the sides should tone down their belligerent rhetoric and ways must be found for a direct dialogue between the United States and North Korea, between North Korea and the countries of the region," Putin said.
Those who speak with Pyongyang from a position of strength are strengthening the North Korean regime, he went on.
In reply to the question whether Russia is worried about Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, Putin said "We have a common border with North Korea. A nuclear test site is in Korea 200 kilometers from our border. Where is the US situated, where is Russia and North Korea? We are no less anxious about it than you are. Even more," Putin said.
The Russian leader said Russia has practically no trade-economic relations with North Korea. "We are supplying about 40,000 tonnes of oil there, and none of the vertically integrated companies is supplying anything, only small companies, dealers. This is zero, almost nothing. No cooperation, nothing to speak about and nothing to discuss here," the president added.
According to the Russian leader, it is possible and necessary to seek a balanced solution to the situation around North Korea through dialogue. All other options are "dangerous and dead-end", Putin added.