A spokesperson for the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that South Korea violated inter-Korean agreements by continuing to bring in the high-tech weapons from the US.
The statement came a day after two additional F-35A fighter jets arrived in South Korea, raising the total number of the stealth fighters in the country’s Air Force to six, and the top US nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun, said in Seoul that Washington is ready to resume talks with Pyongyang.
“We remain unchanged in our position to resolve all issues in a peaceful manner through dialogue and negotiation. However, dialogue accompanied by military threats is of no interest to us,” the spokesperson said in the statement carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.
“This act of continuously introducing the cutting-edge lethal equipment is a grave provocation that has openly denied the joint declarations and the military agreement between the north and the south of Korea.”
The statement said the intensifying hostile acts by the US and South Korea were undermining the momentum for dialogue, and making Pyongyang consider strengthening its own physical deterrence.
It also said the United States’ recent mid-range cruise missile test and plans to deploy F-35 jets and offensive military equipment around the Korean Peninsula and Japan were “dangerous” moves that would “trigger a new cold war” in the region.
The South Korean Air Force plans to deploy 40 F-35A jets by 2021. The US said it test-fired a ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California, on Aug. 18.
Washington and Pyongyang are yet to restart working-level denuclearization talks after their February summit in Hanoi broke down without reaching a deal.
The North’s statement Thursday shows that while Pyongyang is open to talks, it will not return to the negotiation table soon, and when it does, it will try to discuss its security concerns such as the South Korea-US joint military exercises and Seoul’s introduction of new weapons.
On Wednesday, US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun told reporters in Seoul that Washington is ready to resume the stalled denuclearization talks as soon as he hears from his counterparts in North Korea.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)