A Chinese proposal could be politically radioactive for the UK government. Photo: Reuters

As the United Nations imposes more sanctions on North Korea to try and stop its development of nuclear weapons, a Russian diplomat argues Pyongyang wouldn’t need an atomic device in a conflict on the Korean Peninsular.

Instead, North Korea could rain its missiles down on South Korea’s atomic power plants, causing widespread radiation contamination that would turn South Korea into a desert, devoid of life, Georgy Toloraya, who served in North Korea, said in an interview with the Russian news service RT.com.

South Korea operates 24 nuclear reactors, most of them on it’s east coast facing Japan, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Toloraya, who is also East Asia Director at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, made the comment as part of his argument that there isn’t a military solution to the crisis on the Peninsular, only a diplomatic one.

“Everyone understands perfectly well that for North Korea, if it initiates an aggressive strike, a military conflict will mean a complete and immediate destruction, because no one can deny the US military might,” Toloraya said in the interview.

However, if the US attempts to solve this problem militarily it will prompt a retaliatory strike by North Korea and Pyongyang’s missiles — even without nuclear warheads — could target nuclear facilities in the South, he said.

If the current situation in East Asia is not resolved, a number of countries “will be living under a threat of a nuclear volcano erupting,” Toloraya said.

Japan will suffer damage, too, and diplomacy and negotiations are the only way out of the crisis because pressure on Pyongyang over many years, including sanctions, have not changed North Korea’s position, he said.

“The thing is, the most bloody wars sometimes begin by accident or by mistake, this has happened in history. The higher the level of armament and the hotter the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the bigger a chance of an accidental turn of events, with the subsequent escalation,” he said.

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