North Korea condemns US, South Korea and Japan military cooperation: NPR

FILE – In this photo, provided by the South Korean Ministry of Defense, the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, second from left, and the South Korean Landing Pad Helicopter (LPH) ship Marado, left, sail during a joint military exercise on an unnamed location, June 4, 2022.

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North Korea condemns US, South Korea and Japan military cooperation: NPR

FILE – In this photo, provided by the South Korean Ministry of Defense, the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, second from left, and the South Korean Landing Pad Helicopter (LPH) ship Marado, left, sail during a joint military exercise on an unnamed location, June 4, 2022.

AP

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Sunday criticized the United States, South Korea and Japan for insisting on strengthening their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the country is urgently called upon to increase its military capabilities. strengthen.

North Korea has long cited what it calls hostility from the United States and its allies as a reason to pursue a nuclear program. Sunday’s statement comes as North Korea’s neighbors say the country is ready for its first nuclear test in five years as part of its provocative series of weapons tests this year.

“The prevailing situation urgently calls for building up the country’s defenses to actively cope with the rapid deterioration of the security environment of the Korean peninsula and the rest of the world,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said. in a statement, without explaining how it would increase its military capability.

The statement denounced a trilateral meeting between US, South Korean and Japanese leaders on the sidelines of a NATO summit last week, in which they underlined the need to strengthen their cooperation to counter North Korean nuclear threats. .

“The chief executives of the US, Japan and South Korea got together to confront (North Korea) and discussed the dangerous joint military countermeasures against North Korea, including the launch of tripartite joint military exercises,” it said. the explanation.

North Korea views US-led military exercises in the region, especially those involving rival South Korea, as an invasion rehearsal, though Washington and Seoul have repeatedly said they have no intention of attacking the north.

At the recent trilateral meeting, US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply concerned” about North Korea’s ongoing ballistic missile tests and apparent plans to conduct a nuclear test. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the importance of trilateral cooperation has grown in light of North Korea’s advanced nuclear program, while Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said joint anti-missile drills would be important to counter North Korean threats. to startle.

Earlier in June, the US, South Korea and Japan defense chiefs agreed to resume their combined missile warning and detection exercises as part of their efforts to confront North Korea’s escalating weapons tests.

The North Korean statement accused the United States of exaggerating rumors of North Korean threats “to provide an excuse for gaining military supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region, including the Korean peninsula.”

US officials have said Washington has no hostile intentions toward Pyongyang and have urged the country to return to disarmament talks without preconditions. North Korea has rejected the US overture and says it would focus on strengthening its nuclear deterrent unless the United States drops its hostile policies toward the North, a clear reference to US-led economic sanctions and its regular military training with South Korea.

North Korea claimed that the recent NATO summit demonstrates an alleged US plan to restrain Russia and China by effecting the “militarization of Europe” and forming a NATO-like alliance in Asia. It said “the reckless military actions of the US and its vassals” could lead to dangerous consequences, such as a nuclear war taking place simultaneously in both Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Pyongyang has often unleashed similar war rhetoric, warning of the danger of nuclear war at a time of heightened hostility to Washington and Seoul.

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