North Korea warned that the U.S. would trigger a “new Cold War” and a mounting arms race if it decides to place new ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in South Korea.
“The U.S. pointed out that it is now examining a plan for deploying ground-to-ground medium-range missiles in the Asian region and South Korea has been singled out as a place for the deployment,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said in a commentary Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“It is a reckless act of escalating regional tension, an act that may spark off a new Cold War and arms race in the Far Eastern region to deploy a new offensive weapon in South Korea.”
The remarks come after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said earlier this month he was in favor of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia. The comment came a day after the U.S. officially withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.
However, other senior officials said the missiles’ deployment would be years away.
South Korea’s defense ministry has maintained no discussions have taken place with Washington regarding placing American-made intermediate-range missiles in the country, according to Reuters.
KCNA went on to bash recent improvements to military sites in South Korea that host U.S. terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) systems, which are intended to intercept ballistic missiles.
“It is a hard fact that the deployment of THAAD is pursuant to the U.S. strategy to contain great powers and hold supremacy in Northeast Asia, not the one for ‘shielding’ South Korea from someone’s ‘threat,’ ” KCNA said, according to Reuters.
KCNA’s remarks come after a series of projectile launches from Pyongyang, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called a “warning” against joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.
The launches have thrown into question whether there will be another summit between President Trump and Kim over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile stockpiles, though the president has appeared unfazed by the recent launches, calling Kim a “friend.”
“Chariman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!”