North Korea criticizes military cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan

SEOUL: North Korea on Sunday criticized the United States, South Korea and Japan for pushing to boost their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the move sparked urgent calls for the country to boost its military capabilities. north Korea has long cited what it calls hostility from United States and its allies as a reason to pursue a nuclear program. Sunday’s announcement comes as North Korea’s neighbors say the country is ready for its first nuclear test in five years as part of a provocative series of weapons tests this year.
“The prevailing situation calls for a more urgent build-up of the country’s defenses to proactively deal with the rapid deterioration of the security environment on the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement, without specifying how it would increase its military capacity.
The statement challenged a trilateral meeting between the leaders of the US, South Korea and Japan on the sidelines of last week’s NATO summit, during which they stressed the need to step up cooperation to address North Korean nuclear threats.
“The CEOs of the US, Japan and South Korea put their heads together for a confrontation with (North Korea) and discussed dangerous joint military countermeasures against it, including the launch of trilateral joint military exercises,” the statement said.
North Korea views US-led military exercises in the region, particularly those with rival South Korea, as a rehearsal for an invasion, although Washington and Seoul have repeatedly said they have no intention of attacking the North.
During the recent tripartite meeting, US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply concerned” about North Korea’s continued ballistic missile tests and apparent plans to conduct a nuclear test. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said the importance of trilateral cooperation had grown in the face of North Korea’s advanced nuclear program, while Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said joint anti-missile exercises would be important to deter North Korean threats.
Earlier in June, the defense chiefs of the US, South Korea and Japan agreed to resume their combined missile warning and tracking exercises as part of their efforts to deal with North Korea’s escalating weapons tests.
North Korea’s statement accused the United States of exaggerating rumors of North Korean threats “to provide an excuse to achieve military supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region, including the Korean Peninsula.”
US officials have said Washington has no hostile intentions towards Pyongyang and urged it to return to disarmament talks without any preconditions. North Korea rejected the US initiative, saying it would focus on strengthening its nuclear deterrent unless the United States abandoned its hostile policy toward the North, an apparent reference to US-led economic sanctions and regular military exercises with South Korea.
North Korea claims that the recent NATO summit proves an alleged US plan to contain Russia and China by achieving the “militarization of Europe” and forming a NATO-like alliance in Asia. It said “reckless military moves by the US and its vassal powers” could lead to dangerous consequences such as nuclear war taking place simultaneously in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Pyongyang often unleashes such belligerent rhetoric and warns of the danger of nuclear war at a time of heightened hostility with Washington and Seoul.

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