VLADIMIR Putin has revealed crackpot country North Korea told him about their deadly nuclear arsenal way back in 2001.
The Russian President said former leader Kim Jong-il casually mentioned he had developed a city-destroying nuclear bomb during a friendly chat around 16 years ago.
He said: “In 2001, when I was on my way to pay a visit to Japan, I made a stop in North Korea, where I had a meeting with the father of the country’s current leader.
“It was back then when he told me that they had a nuclear bomb.
“Moreover, Seoul was within the hitting range of their standard artillery systems at that time.”
And the shaven-chested autocrat insisted that sanctions have not stopped the hermit kingdom from developing nukes and bomb-carrying ballistic missiles.
He said: “When was that? In 2001 – it is 2017 already, the country has been living under permanent sanctions and instead of a nuclear bomb they have now a hydrogen bomb.
“However, it was decided literally a week later to block the accounts of North Korean banks, because someone felt the obligations assumed by North Korea are not enough, that it can and should do more.
“But that was precisely what they agreed on. What was the reason for provoking them?
“They immediately withdrew from all agreements and began developing their nuclear program. Now we have what we have.”
Kremlin strongman Putin said while he did want to criticise US President Donald Trump’s policy towards North Korea, he did want both sides to “tone down” the war-mongering rhetoric.
He added: “…ways must be found for a direct dialogue between the United States and North Korea, between North Korea and the countries of the region.”
When asked whether Russia is worried about dictator Kim Jong-un’s nuclear arsenal, he said: “We have a common border with North Korea.
“A nuclear test site is in Korea 200 kilometres from our border. Where is the US situated, where is Russia and North Korea?
“We are no less anxious about it than you are. Even more.”
The Russian leader denied suggestions that Russia has strong trade-economic relations with North Korea.
He said: “We are supplying about 40,000 tonnes of oil there, and none of the vertically integrated companies is supplying anything, only small companies, dealers.
“This is zero, almost nothing. No cooperation, nothing to speak about and nothing to discuss here.”
Putin said countries must seek a balanced solution around the North Korean crisis through dialogue.
He added that all other options are “dangerous and dead-end.”