Pyongyang has warned of an “overwhelming” military response after the United States and South Korea unveiled a new “deterrence strategy” aimed at the DPRK, claiming that the US has escalated the “nuclear threat” on the Korean peninsula.
In comments carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday, a Pyongyang military spokesman responded to high-level talks between Washington and Seoul earlier this week.
“The actions of US military officials in the puppet area… clearly show that the main culprit causing the escalation of the situation on the Korean peninsula is none other than the United States and its followers,” the statement said, referring to the meetings in the South Korean capital.
The spokesman went on to say that North Korea would develop “more offensive and overwhelming response capabilities” and pursue “visible strategic deterrent military actions.”
The joint security talks involved US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and top South Korean military officials, who pledged to step up nuclear and conventional forces as part of a revised “Tailored Deterrence Strategy” against Pyongyang.
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“Our deterrence commitment to [South Korea] remains ironclad – that includes a full range of our nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities,” Austin told reporters, going on to tout several recent US deployments in the region.
Earlier this year, US President Joe Biden said the Pentagon would enhance the “regular visibility” of strategic military assets on the Korean peninsula, hoping the move would improve “deterrence” against the North. Soon after, Washington dispatched a nuclear ballistic missile submarine to South Korea for the first time since 1981, and later sent multiple nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, drawing harsh condemnation from Pyongyang.
In its latest statement, the North Korean Defense Ministry said those moves had only escalated the “nuclear threat.”
Pyongyang codified a new nuclear weapons doctrine into law last year, declaring that its acquisition of the bomb was “irreversible,” while authorizing the first-use of nuclear weapons if an enemy attack is “judged to be imminent.”
North Korea has embarked on a series of weapons tests since President Biden took office in 2021 – including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – deeming them a legitimate response to stepped-up US-South Korean military drills in the region. Washington, Seoul and other allies have repeatedly slammed the launches as provocative and illegal under international law, and insist their wargames are purely defensive in nature.