PYONGYANG: North Korea has pledged to step up its responses to US and allied military drills on the Korean Peninsula, saying a recent flurry of exercises have only served to drive up tensions in the region and would prompt “fiercer” countermeasures.
In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui commented on a summit held between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo over the weekend, where the allies vowed to strengthen military “deterrence” against the DPRK following weeks of contentious drills and a series of missile, rocket and artillery tests by Pyongyang in response.
Choe said increasingly tight security ties between the three states – as well as recent “large-scale war exercises for aggression” – would only “drive the situation on the Korean peninsula into a more unpredictable phase.”
“The more the US concentrates on ‘strengthening the provision of extended deterrence’ to its allies, and the more provocative and pretentious military activities it strengthens on the Korean peninsula and in the region, the fiercer our military response will be in direct proportion to it,” the FM went on, adding “America will realize that it is taking a gamble it will regret” and will soon “approach us as a more serious, realistic and inevitable threat.”
Her statement comes after the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) claimed on Thursday that the North fired a short-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, which traveled around 240km at speeds of up to Mach 4. Describing Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches as a “significant provocation,” Seoul claimed that these actions “undermine peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the international community.”
The JCS also noted that before the launch, South Korea and the US conducted “pre-planned” joint missile defense exercises.
US President Joe Biden met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia last weekend. Ahead of the talks, Biden declared the three-way alliance is “more important than it’s ever been” given increasing “provocations” by North Korea, referring to the hundreds of munitions launched by the DPRK as a show of force against several rounds of joint military exercises in recent months.
After several years of relative quiet, North Korea has carried out a record number of missile launches in 2022, resuming weapons tests following a self-imposed moratorium agreed during negotiations with then-US President Donald Trump in 2018.