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Putin expresses concern over tension in Korean peninsula news
09 April 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern yesterday over the tension in 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 neighbours," 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 remains a chilling reminder of the hazardous nature of nuclear power plant operations, due to the April 1986 disaster, in which a reactor in the plant exploded during a safety experiment, spewing a cloud of highly radioactive fallout.

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

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

He also praised a weekend US decision to postpone a planned missile test as part of efforts to de-escalate the tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Following several nuclear threats from North Korea over weeks, there was no evidence that North Korea was planning an imminent nuclear test.

However, South Korea and the US both say they would not be surprised if the North launched a missile later this week.

Whether that would be a hostile act or a test was anybody's guess, especially since very little was known about the new North Korean leadership as also Kim Jong Un's intentions.

According to Gary Samore who was president Obama's top nuclear adviser up until January and had also played a key role in the Clinton administration's negotiation of an agreement to stop North Korea's nuclear programme, the North Koreans could well launch another missile or conduct another missile test.

He told CNN's Chritiane Amanpour that he thought most of their threats to take military action were probably just theatrics designed to intimidate and frighten people.

What it meant was, according to analysts, Samore believed the North Koreans would do something, but more likely it would be some type of test. He added that had certainly been the pattern in the past.

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Putin expresses concern over tension in Korean peninsula