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Putin warns against 'global catastrophe' over North Korea

September 5, 2017

Russian President Putin condemned North Korea's actions, but said that global powers must avoid "ramping up military hysteria." Washington has accused the North of "begging for war," after testing hydrogen bombs.

Nordkorea Raketenstart
Image: Reuters/KCNA

Putin warns of global 'catastrophe' over N Korea conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference on Tuesday that he "condemns" North Korea's recent missile tests as "provocative," but that he foresees a "global catastrophe" if any path but diplomacy is pursued as a deterrent to Pyongyang's atomic ambitions.

"Ramping up military hysteria in such conditions is senseless; it’s a dead end,” he said, according to state broadcaster Russia Today. "It could lead to a global, planetary catastrophe and a huge loss of human life. There is no other way to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, save that of peaceful dialogue."

He warned that if "they do not feel safe" in North Korea, they will not curb their weapons program. Putin said that sanctions may help, but that implementing "just any sanctions" is "useless."

Seoul starts massive military exercises

South Korea began huge military drills on Tuesday in response to Pyongyang's hydrogen bomb tests. Warships, including a guided-missile vessel, participated in Tuesday's live-fire exercises off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula.

A frigate, patrol ship and several high-speed boats were also used, South Korean military officials said.

The Yonhap news agency described the drills as "massive" adding that the navy said the manoeuvers were a show of the country's "resolve to retaliate against North Korea's provocations" following an apparent test of hydrogen bomb at the weekend.

"If the enemy launches a provocation above water or under water, we will immediately hit back to bury them at sea," Captain Choi Young-chan, commander of the 13th Maritime Battle Group, said in a statement.

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The South Korean exercises followed a day after a joint army and air force drill involving F-15 fighter jets and land-based ballistic missiles that simulated an attack on North Koreas' nuclear test site.

More drills shortly

Seoul says more naval drills are planned from Wednesday to Saturday in the country's southern seas.

North Korea on Sunday triggered global alarm with its sixth and by far most powerful atomic test to date, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted onto a long-range missile.

Pyongyang has launched a series of missiles in recent months, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range.

North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, Han Tae Song, said Tuesday his country was ready to send more "gift packages" to the United State while speaking at a UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

"The recent self-defence measures by my country... are a 'gift package' addressed to none other than the US," Han said.

"The US will receive more 'gift packages' from my country as long as its relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on [North Korea]," he added without elaborating.

Meanwhile, a South Korean newspaper reported on Tuesday that Pyongyang appeared to be moving an ICBM towards its western coast.

Read more:

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Citing an unidentified intelligence source, the Asia Business Daily said the rocket started moving on Monday and was being relocated at night to avoid detection.

The defence ministry in Seoul said it was unable to confirm the contents of the report.

On Monday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said North Korean leader Kim Jung -Un was "begging for war."

Haley said Washington would pressure other countries to stop doing business with the North and planned to circulate a new UN Security Council resolution this week, with the aim of getting new sanctions approved on September 11.

Earlier on Monday, US President Donald Trump spoke by phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and agreed that Sunday's underground nuclear test by Pyongyang was an unprecedented provocation.

Missile limits waived

The two leaders also agreed to remove the limit on the payload of South Korean missiles, fixed at 500 kilograms according to a 2001 bilateral agreement.

Trump also said he was willing to approve the sale of "many billions of dollars' worth of military weapons and equipment from the United States to South Korea," according to a statement released by the White House.

mm,es /bw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)