North Korea says new US alliance in Indo-Pacific and submarine deal could trigger ‘nuclear arms race’

·3-min read

North Korea has said America’s “double-dealing attitude” with respect to its recent security pact with Australia and Britain could “trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race” in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US forged a trilateral security partnership last week that will involve Britain giving technological aid to Australia to develop eight nuclear-powered submarines.

The deal came amid an escalating security situation in the region as North Korea and South Korea both tested a series of missiles.

The new pact, known as the Aukus deal, has been perceived to be a counter to China, which supports North Korea and has a strong presence in the South China Sea.

“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 (sic),” said North Korea’s foreign ministry in a statement on Monday carried in the state-controlled KCNA news agency.

The nuclear-powered North has said in case the country perceived “even a little” adverse impact in its security, it would take “a corresponding counter-action.”

The latest missile tests and the Aukus deal have increased challenges to denuclearise the region.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un had agreed to work towards the Korean peninsula’s denuclearisation with former US president Donald Trump.

Meanwhile the UN atomic nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday that North Korea’s nuclear programme is going “full steam ahead”, in a speech to an annual general meeting of its members.

“In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, (the) nuclear programme goes full steam ahead with work on plutonium separation, uranium enrichment and other activities,” Grossi told the IAEA gathering . The agency issued a report last month saying Pyongyang appeared to have restarted a nuclear reactor that is widely believed to have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons

North Korea’s relationship with the US, which then showed signs of thawing on the surface, has now shifted under current president Joe Biden, under whom the Aukus deal was signed.

The statement by North’s foreign ministry singled out White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s remarks on the deal. Ms Psaki’s comment stating that the US did not want conflict with China, was dubbed as hypocritical by North Korea.

The comment by Ms Psaki “amounts to a stand that any country can spread nuclear technology if it is in its interests, and this shows that the US is the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear non-proliferation system,” the foreign ministry said.

The Aukus deal did not just come under attack by North Korea, but also by France, which has accused Australia of hiding its intentions to back out of an earlier AUS$90 billion (£47bn) contract for the French majority state-owned Naval group to build 12 diesel-electric submarines.

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison said the security situation in the region was to blame.

An unnamed North Korean foreign ministry official seemingly seized on France’s criticism, without naming the country, and said the US was accused of back stabbing, even by its allies, according to the Associated Press (AP).

“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,” the official was quoted as saying by AP.

The US and North Korea had begun nuclear negotiations, but they stalled after a second meeting between Mr Trump and Kim Jong-un in 2019.

Meanwhile, the North attacked its neighbour South Korea, deriding its submarine-launched ballistic missile as “clumsy work”, with a “sloppy” weapon that did not even have the shape of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Additional reporting by agencies

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