Mr. Putin hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue as he believes this is what Iran and its neighbors, including Israel, are strongly interested in.
Vladimir Putin: Good evening. It's evening here and morning there. Good morning, Larry. It is very good to see you again. I remember our first meeting, our interview.
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Larry King: … What is your assessment of the situation on the Korean Peninsula? You have said that there is a colossal danger that the conflict will intensify. Do you share that fear?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, the situation is acute and very worrying. It cannot but worry us because everything that is happening is happening in the immediate proximity of our borders.
But we sincerely hope that reason will prevail, that emotions will take the back seat and that a dialogue will begin. Reaching an agreement is impossible without dialogue.
Alongside our partners, including the United States, we are working hard towards resolving the North Korean problems, those connected with nuclear programmes, the settlement of the situation between the two parts of Korea, and at various stages this work has yielded a range of results, some were quite impressive and positive. I very much hope that we will be back on track with this positive work.
Larry King: China has proposed holding six-party talks: the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States. Do you support this idea?
Vladimir Putin: The president takes the lead on our foreign policy, and the question should, in the first place, be directed to him, but overall I think that Russia would like to see this dialogue continue.
Larry King: Do you think that China should do more to resolve the situation, because it has great influence over North Korea?
Vladimir Putin: This is the US State Department's position. But in principle we should do everything we can to normalise the situation. The People's Republic of China has leverage, especially in economic terms, but it should be remembered that we must respect the interests of the Korean people, both those in its Northern and Southern parts.
We should be patient, get the tone of the dialogue right and formulate a common position for all the six states that are involved in this fairly complicated negotiating process. A common approach is a very important precondition for overall success.
Larry King: You share other states' concerns that Iran is moving towards becoming a nuclear power. How does Russia feel about that?
Vladimir Putin: Iran has been implementing its nuclear programme for twenty years now and of late, in recent years, Iran has in one way or another indicated its readiness to engage in dialogue with the international community and with the IAEA. Yes, we are aware that questions remain concerning the early stages of the programme and we share the IAEA's desire for exhaustive answers.
You will, of course, know that we are concerned about any indication of proliferation, about any possibility, even if it is a theoretical possibility for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This applies to absolutely all states, including Iran. At the same time we have no grounds for suspecting Iran of seeking to possess nuclear weapons. But we are cooperating with all our partners, including the United States, within the framework of the United Nations. As you know, so far we have managed to agree on the decisions taken. Our position is open and Iran is aware of it. We will continue to cooperate with all participants in this process until the problem is entirely resolved. I very much hope that this resolution will transpire. I think this is in the interests not only of Iran's neighbour, Israel, which has great fears about nuclear programmes, and the other parties involved in this process but also those of Iran and the Iranian people.
I see nothing reprehensible, nothing that infringes upon Iran's national interests, in it opening up all its programmes and responding adequately to the legitimate interest that the international specialist agency, the IAEA, has taken in its work. I see nothing to fear here, but at the same time I am still of the opinion that Iran has the right to pursue nuclear programmes under the supervision of international organisations.
Larry King: There's a lot of concern now about this new treaty. Your president, Medvedev, warned that there would be a new arms race if NATO and Moscow don't agree on a joint missile shield. And what happens to the relations between the two countries? Will there be another arms race if the United States doesn't ratify?
Vladimir Putin: No. In his state-of-the-nation address to the Russian parliament earlier today, President Medvedev said only that we made a proposal concerning the shared problem of security. He said that through joint effort and shared responsibility, we can eventually solve this problem.
But if there are only negative reactions to all of our proposals, and if a threat emerges on our borders in the form of a new incarnation of the Third Site programme, Russia will just have to protect itself using various means, including the deployment of new missile systems to counter the new threats to our borders and the development of new nuclear-missile technology. This is not our choice. We don't want this. It's not a threat. We are simply talking about what to expect if we can't agree to work together. That's all. Again, we don't want to see this happen.
Larry King: Well, you're saying it's not a threat, but it does sound like a threat. The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that America believes that you're moving short-range tactical nuclear warheads near NATO allies, as recently as this spring. Was that true?
Vladimir Putin: Larry, listen, I'd like to make this clear to you and to all Americans, or, at least, to the audience of your show today. It's not Russia that is moving missiles close to your border; it's the United States that is planning to deploy missiles near Russia's border. We keep hearing that the purpose is to protect yourselves from the threat of a nuclear missile attack by Iran, for example. But Iran poses no such threat at the moment. And if anti-missile and radar systems are set up near our border, even in 2015, they will undermine our nuclear capabilities. So it's only natural that we are alarmed by the prospect. And we are obligated to take some measures in response. This is a response; we are not making the first moves.
While in Lisbon, President Medvedev put forward some concrete proposals about NATO and Russia sharing responsibility for security in Europe. We could reach an agreement with NATO and, by extension, with the United States, on information sharing and on jointly managing these systems. Military experts can do it, provided there is goodwill. But we continue to be told, "We don't want to take your interests into account, we are going to do whatever we want." So we'll just have to view it as a threat to our security, and we'll be forced to respond accordingly. That's what I'd like to get across to the American public.
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Larry King: Thank you. I'll see you next year.