US and allies cooperation a step towards ‘Asian NATO’, says North Korean media

Joint exercises by the US, South Korea and Japan have a “sinister target” on North Korea and are part of a dangerous prelude to the creation of an “Asian version of NATO,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said on Wednesday. .

The reports on KCNA came hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan will attend the annual NATO summit as observers for the first time. They will also meet with US President Joe Biden to discuss North Korea, the first such trilateral summit since 2017.

The three countries will also conduct a combined missile detection and tracking exercise near Hawaii in August called Pacific Dragon.

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“The US is determined to ignore military cooperation with its accomplices without regard to the primary security questions and concerns of countries in Asia and the Pacific,” KCNA said.

In a similar statement over the weekend, the North’s State Department said the exercises showed the hypocrisy of US offers of diplomatic engagement and dialogue without preconditions.

North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, including that of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, and there are concerns it could be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017.

South Korea and Japan are both US allies, but their relationship with each other has been strained by historic tensions over the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910-1945.

Washington has urged Seoul and Tokyo to cooperate more in the face of threats from North Korea and to counter China’s increasing influence.

“The plan to form a military alliance between the US, Japan and South Korea, prompted by Japan and South Korea’s nostalgia for the US, is clearly a dangerous prelude to the creation of the ‘Asian version of NATO'” KCNA said, accusing Washington of fomenting a new Cold War.

KCNA had a separate comment from Kim Hyo-myung, a researcher with the North Korean International Society for Political Research, who said NATO was responsible for the war in Ukraine and that there are “ominous signs that sooner or later the black waves in the north Atlantic will break the calm in the Pacific.”

“NATO is nothing more than a servant of the realization of the US hegemony strategy and an instrument of local aggression,” Kim wrote.

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