Russian experts believe that the USA might launch a military operation against North Korea.
At a press conference "The Iraqi War and Prospects of Settling the North Korean Crisis" at RIA Novosti on Thursday, Alexander Vorontsov, chief of the Korean Department of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that a US-lead assault against North Korea could not be ruled out.
He stated that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had already spoken up such a possibility in Washington.
Vorontsov said that Pyongyang's statements and actions "provoke the USA to adopt a tougher position." But North Korean politicians don't want to wage a war, the expert stated. Pyongyang is keeping the Americans in suspense.
The scientist recalled that the three-month term would expire on April 10 after which North Korea will withdraw from the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. North Korea will be given a free hand in pursuing its nuclear policy and "it will be impossible then to make any legal claims," Vorontsov said in conclusion.
He gave a warning that "in the light of mounting tensions between the USA and North Korea, any blunder could be used as a pretext for starting a military operation." Vadim Tkachenko, chief of the Korean Studies Centre of the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences - who also took part in the conference - expressed confidence that the situation around Korea would not develop according to the Iraqi scenario. An attack on nuclear facilities in North Korea could pose a serious threat to the region as a whole, including neighbouring Russia.
Russia will adopt a tougher position than in case with Iraq, if a military operation against North Korea is launched, because it will then directly endanger Russia's national security, Tkachenko said.