North Korea on Sunday accused the US of trying to create a Nato-like military alliance in Asia as it criticised the country for a recent agreement on strengthening military cooperation with South Korea and Japan.
Claiming that the three allies’ cooperation has prompted it to reinforce its own military capability, North Korea cited the long-standing hostility with the three as the reason behind its nuclear programme.
“The prevailing situation more urgently calls for building up the country’s defense to actively cope with the rapid aggravation of the security environment of the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world," said the North Korean foreign ministry in a statement.
Last week, the US, South Korea and Japan met on the sidelines of a Nato summit, and underscored the need for strengthened military cooperation in a bid to counter nuclear threats from North Korea.
"The chief executives of the US, Japan and South Korea put their heads together for confrontation with (North Korea) and discussed the dangerous joint military countermeasures against it including the launch of tripartite joint military exercises," they said in a statement.
President Joe Biden added that he was “deeply concerned” about North Korea’s continued ballistic missile tests and apparent plans to conduct a nuclear test. South Korea’s president Yoon Suk Yeol said the allies’ trilateral cooperation was of particular importance in the face of North Korea’s advanced nuclear programme.
Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida added that joint anti-missile drills will play a role in deterring North Korea’s threats.
Pyongyang, which sees US-led military exercises in the region as an invasion rehearsal, slammed Washington for “spreading rumours about ‘threat from North’” and claimed that this is being used as an “excuse for attaining military supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region”.
"The prevailing situation more urgently calls for building up the country’s defences to actively cope with the rapid aggravation of the security environment," a North Korean spokesperson was quoted as saying by KCNA.
The recent Nato summit proves that the US intends to contain Russia and China by the “militarisation of Europe” and forming a Nato-like alliance in Asia, claimed North Korea. It also warned that “the reckless military moves of the US and its vassal forces” could have dangerous consequences such as a simultaneous nuclear war in both Europe and Asia-Pacific.
US officials have in past have said that Washington has no hostile intentions towards Pyongyang, as they urged it to return to disarmament talks without any preconditions.
North Korea has rejected these overtures, saying it will focus on buttressing its nuclear deterrent unless the US drops its hostile policies towards the country, in an apparent reference to US-led economic sanctions and military training with South Korea.
Additional reporting by agencies