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North Korea slams US for risking ‘nuclear arms race’ in submarine deal with Australia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo provided by the KCNA, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) waves from a balcony toward the assembled troops and spectators during a celebration of the nation’s 73rd anniversary at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2021. (Via AP)

Pyongyang has condemned the United States over a controversial submarine deal with Australia that risks a “nuclear arms race,” warning of countermeasures if it affects the security of North Korea.

Last week, the US, Britain, and Australia established a security alliance – dubbed AUKUS – for the Indo-Pacific to protect what they called their shared interests and help Australia acquire American nuclear-powered submarines.

“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,” the North Korean state media KCNA quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying on Monday.

The new security pact effectively scrapped a previous $66-billion deal between France and Australia that was signed to supply 12 French-designed conventional diesel-electric submarines to the Australians.

The snubbed deal infuriated Paris to the extent that it recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.

Under AUKUS, the three countries have agreed to enhance the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing and foster deeper integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains.

“This shows that the US is the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear non-proliferation system,” the North Korean ministry official added, stressing that “the current situation shows once again that (our) efforts to bolster national defense capabilities based on long-term perspectives should not be eased by even a bit.”

Although Paris regards Washington as the prime mover in the security pact, it is unlikely that Britain can escape the worsening diplomatic fallout completely.

“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 ministry official further said.

The new trilateral security pact has been widely seen as an attempt to counter the so-called growing military assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing has been quick to condemn the initiative as “extremely irresponsible” and a threat to regional peace and stability.

The North Korean ministry official also stressed that Pyongyang was closely examining the security pact and would proceed with corresponding actions if it has “even a little adverse impact on the security of our country.”

Denuclearization talks have been stalled since 2019, with North Korea demanding sanctions relief. Former US President Donald Trump had held three meetings with the North Korean leader, and exchanged a series of letters with him, too, but bilateral diplomacy did not last long as Trump refused to remove sanctions in exchange for several steps by the North toward demilitarization.

President Joe Biden’s relationship with North Korea has marked a change in tone from Trump. The US president emphasizes the necessity for diplomacy to continue but has said Washington will make no “grand bargain” with Pyongyang, which says it will go ahead with denuclearization if significant sanctions relief is offered.

“The US double-dealing attitude getting all the more pronounced after the emergence of the new administration erodes the universally accepted international norm and order and seriously threatens the world peace and stability,” the North Korean ministry official said.

The developments came five days after the North tested a railway-launched ballistic missile. Hours later, South Korea, for its part, successfully test-fired a Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), a considerable leap in defense capabilities that made the South only the seventh country in the world with the technology but the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system.


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