North Korea has slammed a new security treaty signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, warning that it could spark a “nuclear arms race.”
According to a Foreign Ministry official, the Aukus deal will “upend the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The United States and the United Kingdom will provide Australia with the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines under the terms of the agreement.
It is widely perceived as an attempt to counter China’s influence in the disputed South China Sea.
The Aukus agreement, which was announced last week, will also cover cruise missiles, artificial intelligence, and other technologies.
“These are extremely undesirable and dangerous acts which will upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region and trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race,” said a DPRK Foreign Ministry official referring to the security agreement.
Last week, North Korea carried out two major weapons tests – that of a long-range cruise missile and a ballistic missile.
China has also criticised the deal with Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian saying the alliance risked “severely damaging regional peace… and intensifying the arms race”.
Pyongyang said it was “quite natural that neighbouring countries [like] China condemned these actions as irresponsible ones of destroying the peace and stability of the region”.
The deal will see the US share its submarine technology for the first time in 60 years, having previously only shared it once with the UK.
It means Australia will be able to build nuclear-powered submarines that are faster and harder to detect than conventionally powered fleets. They can stay submerged for months and shoot missiles longer distances – although Australia says it has no intention of putting nuclear weapons on them.
China was not mentioned directly during the announcement of the security arrangement. However, the leaders of the three countries referred repeatedly to regional security concerns that had “grown significantly”.
North Korea also referenced an earlier statement made by France, which called the deal a “stab in the back”, and said the pact had led to a “serious crisis” between the allies.
France has been critical of the Aukus pact because it ended a deal worth $US37 billion signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines. France says it was informed of the pact only hours before the public announcement was made.