• AFP-Jiji

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North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has said a new U.S. alliance in the Indo-Pacific and recent U.S. submarine contract with Australia could trigger a “nuclear arms race” in the region.

Last week the United States announced a new three-way security pact with Australia and the U.K., as part of a strategic partnership under which U.S. nuclear submarines will be supplied to Canberra.

“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,” a North Korean foreign ministry official said, according to a report Monday by state media KCNA.

“This shows that the U.S. is the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear non-proliferation system,” said a foreign news section chief at the ministry’s Department of Press and Information.

On Wednesday nuclear-armed North Korea fired two missiles into the sea, while Seoul successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile hours later to become only the seventh country in the world with the technology.

The spate of missile tests and bumper defense deals in the Pacific have highlighted a regional arms race that is intensifying as a China-U.S. rivalry grows.

“It is quite natural that neighboring countries including China condemned these actions as irresponsible ones of destroying the peace and stability of the region,” the North Korean official said.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s new defense alliance with Australia and the U.K. is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China.

His administration’s relationship with North Korea has marked a change in tone from his predecessor Donald Trump, who engaged in an extraordinary diplomatic bromance with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The U.S. double-dealing attitude getting all the more pronounced after the emergence of the new administration erodes the universally accepted international norm and order and seriously threatens the world peace and stability,” the North Korean ministry official said.

The official added that North Korea “will certainly take a corresponding counteraction in case it has even a little adverse impact on the security of our country.”

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