SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea’s foreign ministry said on Monday that a new United States alliance in the Indo-Pacific and Washington’s recent submarine contract with Australia could trigger a “nuclear arms race” in the region.
Last week, the US announced a new three-way security pact with Australia and Britain, as part of a strategic partnership under which American nuclear submarines will be supplied to Canberra.
“These are extremely undesirable and dangerous acts which will upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region and trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race,” North Korean state media KCNA quoted a foreign ministry official as saying.
“This shows that the US is the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear non-proliferation system,” they added.
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired two missiles into the sea last Wednesday, with Seoul successfully test-firing a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) hours later, becoming only the seventh country in the world with the technology.
South Korea’s test is a strategic advance for Seoul. It has been strengthening its military capabilities to counter the threat posed by the North, which is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
But in a separate statement carried by KCNA on Monday, the chief of North Korea’s defense science agency called Seoul’s newly developed SLBM a “clumsy piece of work” lacking key technology.
“The homegrown SLBM unveiled by South Korea will not be able to serve as an effective means of attack at war,” he said.
The spate of missile tests and bumper defense deals in the Pacific have highlighted a regional arms race that is intensifying as a China-US rivalry grows.
“It is quite natural that neighboring countries including China condemned these actions as irresponsible ones of destroying the peace and stability of the region,” the North Korean foreign ministry official said.
US President Joe Biden’s new Australia-US-Britain defense alliance is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China.
His administration’s relationship with North Korea has marked a change in tone from his predecessor Donald Trump, who engaged in an extraordinary diplomatic bromance with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“The US double-dealing attitude getting all the more pronounced after the emergence of the new administration… seriously threatens the world peace and stability,” the North Korean ministry official said.
The official added that North Korea “will certainly take a corresponding counteraction in case it has even a little adverse impact on the security of our country.”