North Korea has slammed the United States' decision to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, calling the pact "extremely undesirable and dangerous" and threatening unspecified retaliation if the arrangement jeopardizes the North's security.
Official North Korean media reported on Monday that a senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official described the agreement between the US, UK, and Australia as "extremely undesirable and dangerous acts that will upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region," warning that the move could lead to a "chain reaction of arms races."
The North will take "corresponding counteraction" if it has even a minor negative influence on the country's security, according to the North's Foreign Ministry's Foreign News division chief, who spoke to the official Korean Central News Agency.
Last week, the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom unveiled their Indo-Pacific trilateral security agreement, saying they would share technology to equip Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered but "conventionally armed" submarines.
The agreement has enraged France, a long-time friend that had previously signed a contract with Australia to supply it with 12 conventional submarines, prompting Paris to recall its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington, DC.
The change reflected the deteriorating strategic situation in the Asia Pacific area, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a clear reference to China's continuous military buildup.
The North Korean official appeared to be referring to the French allegations, accusing the US of having a "double-dealing attitude" and claiming that even the country's friends had accused it of backstabbing.
The agreement would jeopardize "regional peace and security, as well as the international non-proliferation system and intensify arms races," the official was reported as saying, echoing China's and other countries' concerns.
“The current situation demonstrates that (our) efforts to strengthen national defense capabilities based on long-term perspectives should not be eased even a little,” according to KCNA.
Pyongyang held a major paramilitary parade earlier this month to commemorate the country's founding, and Pyongyang tested a railway-launched ballistic missile last week in defiance of UN sanctions, only days after saying it had tested a "strategic" long-range cruise missile.
Recent satellite photographs also reveal that North Korea is expanding a uranium enrichment unit at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.
South Korea has also been beefing up its military capabilities, revealing immediately after Pyongyang's missile test that it had successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
Seoul and Washington have been attempting to relaunch denuclearization discussions that have been dormant since 2019.
President Joe Biden has emphasized the importance of engagement but has stated that the US will not strike a "grand bargain" with Pyongyang, which has linked denuclearization to considerable sanctions relief.