There are serious differences between the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a written interview with Mexican publisher Mario Vazquez Rania on Thursday.
"North Korea has walked out of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), has announced that its nuclear program is military in nature, has sent the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors out of the country, and finally has carried through a nuclear test," Putin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
While "Iran is, unlike North Korea, an NPT participant. It continues to comply with the Guarantees Agreement with the IAEA, which makes it possible to control its nuclear activities. Until now the agency has been unable to find any indication in Iran of peaceful nuclear projects having been turned into to military ones," Putin said.
"However, it cannot be said that the IAEA has no serious questions about some aspects of Iran's former nuclear activities. Nor has the IAEA so far been able to confirm the absence in Iran of undeclared nuclear projects. All of these are fueling anxiety over the character of the nuclear program of that country," Putin said.
"Iran should clarify the questions that the agency still has and in that way restore confidence in the peaceful character of its efforts in the nuclear sphere," he said.
Talking about UN Security Council Resolution 1718 on North Korea, Putin said "Russia supports the resolution."
"Indeed, there was need for a powerful and verified reaction from the Security Council that was aimed at preventing the further escalation of tension. We also believed that the North Koreans needed to be given a clear signal that their behavior was undermining the international regime of nuclear nonproliferation," he said.
But Russia also insisted on "purely nonviolent means of pressure."
"It is our principle that the main goal of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 is not to punish the North Korea but to solve the problem of its nuclear program in a political way. In this connection, we hail Pyongyang's decision to return to the six-party talks and expect that ultimately this will lead to a civilized settlement of this problem," Putin said.
UN Resolution 1718, which was passed on Oct. 14, calls for embargo on the provision and procurement of arms, related material and technical assistance as well as assets freeze and embargo on the export of luxury goods to North Korea.
(Xinhua News Agency December 8, 2006)