- North Korea
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QUESTION: North Korea and Iran will undoubtedly come up on the agenda at the summit. These are two hot spots on the international stage at the moment and are the subject of differences among the G8 partners. You have expressed your opposition to imposing sanctions on these countries, saying that you do not want to back them into a corner. Russia continues to build the nuclear reactor at Bushehr and to sell Iran missiles. Why not stop this? What would have to happen for you to say that the time has come to impose more severe sanctions and more serious punishment on countries that violate international laws?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Unlike in past years, we all share the same goals. Like our G8 partners, including Canada, the United States and the European countries, we want a safer world, we want to prevent new threats from emerging and we want to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery in the world. This goes for the Iranian nuclear programme and the North Korean missile programme. The question is only about what means we use to achieve these goals. We see that our partners are sometimes mistaken, to say the least. They were looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, for example, but where are they? Has the economic, social and political situation improved there? Has the counterterrorist situation improved there? This is a big question. And where is the exit now? It's hard to say what the next step should be, but pulling out is also not an option. This is an illustration of the kind of impasse we can arrive at.
I hope that together, and I want to stress this, together, including with the forces in the international coalition in Iraq and the Iraqi people, we will find a way out of this situation. But I do not think that finding a solution has become any easier than when we were trying to put pressure on Saddam Hussein.
The same goes for North Korea and Iran. Regarding nuclear technology the matter concerns not only Iran, after all. The matter also concerns other countries that are on the threshold of developing nuclear technology. One of the items on the agenda for the G8 summit is energy security. But the development of nuclear energy is one of the ways of overcoming energy crises. How can we close off access to present and future nuclear technology to all countries that are not in the nuclear club, especially for peaceful purposes? We cannot do this. Iran will not be the only country wanting to develop this technology, other countries will want to do it too, and we cannot cut them all off from it.
We need to create conditions that will give these countries access to modern technology, including nuclear technology, while at the same time addressing concerns over proliferation of nuclear weapons. Russia has proposed a solution. We proposed creating a network of international centres to enrich uranium and process spent nuclear fuel. This, and other issues, will also be on the agenda at the G8 summit.
We do not supporting letting anyone and everyone acquire nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery. What we want is for everyone to work together, including in the G8, to reach coordinated decisions. This is our objective. How these decisions take form in the Security Council, say, (as sanctions or as a statement) is another matter. But if we start imposing sanctions right now, without even waiting for Iran's response to the proposal that was made regarding its nuclear programme, we will simply undermine this positive process that had just begun to emerge. Why should we do this? This problem has been going on for several years now and what will change if we wait another three weeks? I don't think that anything will change.
So we should not take any hasty steps in this regard. I think that these are the kinds of issues where haste is detrimental.
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