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North Korea criticizes Japan’s military build-up, US flies stealth planes


SEOUL, Dec 20 (Reuters) – North Korea on Tuesday condemned Japan’s military build-up outlined in a new security strategy, calling it dangerous and vowing countermeasures, while warning of another imminent intercontinental ballistic missile test.

Japan last week announced its the largest military buildup after World War II, tensions with China and a hostile North Korea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raised fears of war.

North Korea’s foreign ministry said Japan has effectively formalized a “preemptive strike capability” with its new strategy, which will lead to a “radical” change in the security environment in East Asia.

The ministry also criticized the United States for “complicit and abetting Japan’s rearmament and re-invasion scheme,” saying the United States had no right to question North Korea’s defenses.

“Japan’s foolish act of seeking to satisfy its black-hearted intention of stockpiling weapons for a re-invasion under the pretext that the DPRK is legitimately exercising its right of self-defense can never be justified and tolerated,” the official said in a statement released by the North’s KCNA news agency.

The spokesman referred to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea will express its displeasure at the move to highlight Japan’s “wrong and very dangerous” decision, the spokesman said, warning that “tremblings will soon be felt”.

North Korea has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) designed to reach the US mainland, in violation of international sanctions.

Several of the North Korean missiles flew over Japan or landed in waters near it, prompting condemnation from the staunch US ally.

UPCOMING ICBM TEST?

In a separate statement, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, hinted at technological advances in its intercontinental ballistic missile system and denounced questions about what North Korea said was its attempt to develop spy satellite.

North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Sunday, calling it an “important” test for the development of a reconnaissance satellite it hopes to complete by April.

Experts have raised doubts above the level of North Korea’s satellite technology, but Kim Yo Jong laughed them off and offered advances in his country’s missile programs, including intercontinental ballistic missile development.

North Korea has fired its intercontinental ballistic missiles at a steep angle, and analysts say a normal launch angle requires more sophisticated technology to withstand the heat generated on re-entry into the atmosphere.

“I can dispel their doubts about this,” Kim Yo-chan said. “They will instantly recognize it if we launch an ICBM in the firing path at a real angle.”

She dismissed any threats of new sanctions.

“At this time when our right to exist and develop is threatened, how can we stop our progress for fear of sanctions, which is not the first time we have experienced terribly,” she said.

Hours after the North’s statements, the US Air Force sent B-52 strategic bombers and F-22 fighter jets to South Korea for joint exercises with F-35 and F-15K fighter jets, in its latest show of force against North Korea.

The participation of fifth-generation F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, currently based in Japan’s Okinawa, was their first since May 2018, when the allies staged joint exercises in South Korea.

A spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to discuss signs or the possibility of another intercontinental ballistic missile test, but said it was monitoring the North’s nuclear and missile activities.

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Lincoln Feist, Stephen Coates, and Robert Birsell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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