North Korea accuses the US of trying to build an Asian NATO

The US, Japan, and South Korea concluded their biggest ever three day military exercise on Sunday. North Korea termed it “reckless and provocative” and warned it can have “fatal consequences”

July 01, 2024 by Abdul Rahman
US Sailors on USS Theodore Roosevelt during exercise Freedom Edge. Photo: US Navy

In a statement issued on Sunday, June 30, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) strongly denounced the tripartite military exercises carried out by the US, Japan, and South Korea in the region as “reckless and provocative” claiming it disturbed the peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the larger region and warned of “fatal consequences”.

South Korea, Japan and the US held a joint military exercise called “Freedom Edge” between June 26-29. This largest-ever, three-day military exercise involved all three wings of the military with the participation of nuclear powered US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt along with fighter jets and navy destroyers.

The stated objective of the exercises was to achieve defenses against submarines, missile, and air attacks apparently from alleged threats from North Korea. The joint statement issued by the trio on Thursday claimed that the exercise is designed to “promote trilateral interoperability and protect freedom for peace and stability.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea stated, “We strongly denounce the US, Japan and ROK [Republic of Korea] for their repeated, reckless and provocative military muscle flexing against the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] and other independent states in the region.” It cautioned that such acts could have “fatal consequences” as DPRK will take every possible measure to defend “sovereignty, security and interest of the state and peace in the region.”

North Korea claims that the exercise disturbs the “peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world” as it was yet another attempt by the US to create its military dominance in the world. North Korea warned that such attempts have crossed a “red line” and may destroy the global security environment.

North Korea also pointed out that the tripartite alliance between South Korea, Japan and the US has all the features of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and accused that it looks like the US is pushing for an “Asian version [of] NATO” in the region.

North Korea has been under severe international and US sanctions for decades following the Korean War in the 1950s which divided the peninsula into two. In light of the continuous threat from the US forces stationed in the South since then, the North developed its own weapons program. It has also developed a strong weapons industry and conducted various missile and artillery tests. International sanctions against DPRK intensified after it carried out its first nuclear test.

North Korea claims repeated joint military exercises carried out by the US with South Korea in the region are part of the preparation for war against it. This preparation has taken on serious proportions recently. In the statement on Sunday it claimed that though the three countries have carried out several exercises in the past, this time, the large-scale joint military drill was dubbed with a special name.

The statement also claimed that the US has a strategic design behind the military drill “to escalate regional military tensions, exert pressure upon the Far East of Russia and lay siege to China.”

In the last couple of years, the US has pushed for increased military exercises in the region surrounding China and Korea using its close allies. It has also created new military alliances such as AUKUS and QUAD involving countries even from outside the region. This aggressive military alliance building has made countries in the region such as China, North Korea and Russia feel increasingly threatened.