0128 GMT August 18, 2022
The North Korean criticism comes amid concern it could be preparing its first nuclear test in five years and after a recent agreement between South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden to deploy more U.S. weapons if deemed necessary, Reuters reported.
“While blatantly holding joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea, the United States is making a full-fledged move to establish an Asia-style NATO,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website on Sunday.
It was referring to recent military exercises conducted by U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces. The United States also held exercises with South Korean forces that involved a U.S. aircraft carrier, for the first time in more than four years.
North Korea also said that such drills were preparation for war aimed at overthrowing it.
“This proves the hypocrisy of the U.S. rhetoric of ‘diplomatic engagement’ and ‘dialogue without preconditions’, while at the same time revealing again that there is no change in the U.S. ambition to overthrow our system by force,” the North Korean ministry said.
“The reality ... makes us feel the need to make all-out efforts to develop even stronger power to be able to subdue all kinds of hostile acts by the United States,” it said.
The U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had earlier emphasized that the U.S. does not seek to create “an Asian NATO”.
While reiterating that the U.S. stays “deeply invested” and committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific, the defense secretary said: “We do not seek confrontation and conflict and we do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO or a region split into hostile blocs.”