SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned on Saturday that the US redeployment of an aircraft carrier near the Korean peninsula is causing a “considerable negative splash” in regional security, as it defended its recent missile tests as a “just reaction” to intimidating military exercises. between its rivals.
The statement from North Korea’s Defense Ministry came a day after the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan began a new series of naval exercises with South Korean warships off the east coast of the peninsula. The Reagan and its battle group returned to the area after North Korea fired a powerful missile at Japan earlier this week to protest the carrier battle group’s previous training with South Korea.
Reagan’s redeployment is “an event of a huge negative splash on the regional situation,” an unidentified North Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said in remarks carried by state media. “The armed forces of (North Korea) are seriously approaching the extremely disturbing development of the current situation.”
He also called Reagan’s return a “sort of military bluff” to warn of North Korea’s “righteous reaction” to the “extremely provocative and threatening joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea”. .
North Korea views U.S.-South Korean military exercises as a rehearsal for an invasion and is particularly sensitive if such exercises involve strategic U.S. assets like an aircraft carrier. North Korea has argued that it was forced to pursue a nuclear weapons program to deal with US nuclear threats. US and South Korean officials have repeatedly said they have no intention of attacking the North.
North Korea has fired several missiles in recent weeks
In the past two weeks, North Korea has fired 10 ballistic missiles into the sea in five launches, adding to its record pace of weapons testing this year. Recent weapons tests include a nuclear-capable missile that flew over Japan for the first time in five years and demonstrated range to strike the peaceful US territory of Guam and beyond.
Earlier this year, North Korea tested other nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that put the continental United States and its allies South Korea and Japan within striking range.
North Korea’s test spree indicates that its leader, Kim Jong Un, has no intention of resuming diplomacy with the United States and wants to focus on expanding his arsenal of weapons. But some experts say Kim would eventually aim to use his advanced nuclear program to wrest greater external concessions, such as recognition of North Korea as a legitimate nuclear state, which Kim says is essential to securing peace. lifting crippling UN sanctions against his country.
The Reagan Carrier Strike Group’s final training with the South Korean Navy will end on Saturday.
South Korean officials recently said North Korea is also ready to test a new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile and a submarine-launched ballistic missile while remaining ready to conduct its first underground nuclear test since 2017.