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PoliticsNorth Korea

North Korea says US seeks 'military supremacy' in Asia

July 3, 2022

North Korea said cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan to tackle Pyongyang's nuclear weapons was an excuse for the US to expand military influence in the region.

(R-L) Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol hold a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO in Madrid, Spain on June 29, 2022.
North Korea accused the US of seeking to expand military influence in the region after Joe Biden, Japan's Fumio Kishida (R) and South Korea's Yoon Suk-yeol (L), agreed to step up cooperation on the sidelines of the NATO summitImage: Yomiuri Shimbun/AP Photo/picture alliance

North Korea accused the United States and its allies, Japan and South Korea, of targeting Pyongyang to gain "military supremacy" in the Indo-Pacific, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Sunday.

The KCNA said that the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the "reality clearly shows that the real purpose of the US spreading the rumor about 'threat from North Korea' is to provide an excuse for attaining military supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region."

"The prevailing situation more urgently calls for building up the country's defenses to actively cope with the rapid aggravation of the security environment," the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson's comments came after the leaders of the US, South Korea and Japan agreed to strengthen "deterrence capabilities" to counter North Korea on the sidelines of a three-day summit of NATO leaders earlier this week.

The North accused the US and its allies of a plan to create a military alliance like NATO in the region, hours before Biden was set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the final day of the summit in Madrid.

North Korea slams partnership between US, South Korea, Japan

The meeting of the leaders of the three countries — US, South Korea, and Japan — on June 30, the final day of the summit, gained prominence because the US has sought to repair fractured ties between its two major allies, South Korea and Japan.

The White House released a statement after the meeting of the leaders, saying they discussed "enhancing trilateral cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific," adding, "particularly in regard to addressing the evolving threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs."

NATO, for the first time, also described China as a challenge to its own interests in its new Strategic Concept where it detailed challenges for the alliance until 2030.

Intertwined interests

South Korea and Japan's relations remain frosty over political disputes that date back to the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 until 1945.

South Korea's economy also remains intertwined with China, its largest trading partner. Seoul remains a staunch US partner and hosts around 28,000 US troops.

The US considers China as one of its biggest threats to power and has pushed both allies to help tackle Beijing's influence.

On the other hand, North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, including testing one of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in May. 

Repeated tests have raised concerns among analysts that Pyongyang could be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017.

The US, South Korea and Japan are set to conduct a combined missile detection and tracking exercise, called Pacific Dragon, near Hawaii, in August.

rm/jcg (Reuters, AP)