North Korea condemns US deployment of nuclear submarines to Korean peninsula
North Korea has criticized the United States’ plan to deploy a nuclear missile submarine near the Korean peninsula, cautioning that such actions could lead to a catastrophic atomic conflict. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried a statement from the North Korean defense ministry on Monday, expressing concern over the introduction of US strategic nuclear weapons to the region for the first time since 1981.
The spokesperson for the defense ministry, who remained unnamed, emphasized the dangerous implications of this move, stating, “This is a very dangerous situation as it will bring the regional military tension to a more critical state and may incite the worst crisis of nuclear conflict in practice.” The KCNA further declared that the US plan amounted to nuclear blackmail against North Korea and neighboring countries, posing a grave threat to peace.
The statement made it clear that the responsibility for any unforeseen circumstances in the Korean peninsula lies with the future actions of the United States. President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Suk-yeol, had agreed during an April summit in Washington to have a US Navy nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine visit South Korea. However, no specific timetable has been provided for this visit.
The deployment of US strategic assets aims to enhance the response capabilities to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and ballistic missile program. In the previous month, a US nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine docked at the port of Busan in South Korea, and in June, a US B-52 strategic bomber participated in joint military exercises with South Korea as a show of force following North Korea’s failed satellite launch.
Reacting to the US decision to send nuclear submarines, Pyongyang expressed concerns about the creation of a “very dangerous situation that makes it impossible for us not to realistically accept the worst-case scenario of a nuclear confrontation.” North Korea also alleged that US reconnaissance planes had recently violated its airspace near the east coast, cautioning that such actions could result in the shooting down of a US Air Force strategic reconnaissance plane over the East Sea.
North Korea referred to past incidents of intercepting or shooting down US aircraft at the border with South Korea and off the coast to support its warnings. These statements from North Korea coincide with Yoon Suk-yeol’s attendance at the annual NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he aims to deepen ties with the military alliance and highlight the importance of international cooperation against North Korea’s “illegal acts.”
Yoon’s discussions regarding North Korea during the NATO summit may provoke a strong response from Pyongyang, which has already criticized the increasing cooperation between NATO and US allies in Asia, perceiving it as a process aimed at creating an “Asian version of NATO” that would exacerbate regional tensions. North Korea maintains that its weapons testing serves as a defensive measure against what it perceives as invasion rehearsals in the form of joint military exercises conducted by South Korea and the US. Despite this, Yoon remains committed to pursuing peace through strength while remaining open to dialogue with North Korea.
Yoon will attend the NATO summit alongside the leaders of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, symbolizing the strengthening ties between NATO and nations in the Asia-Pacific region. These four countries were also invited to last year’s summit, indicating a growing partnership between NATO and regional allies.