North Korea has criticized the South’s acquisition of American F-35 stealth fighter jets as an “extremely dangerous action” that could jeopardize inter-Korean relations.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) cited an unnamed policy research director at the Institute for American Studies of North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as making the remark in a statement on Thursday.
The official described South Korean authorities as “impudent and pitiful” for “talking loudly about reconciliation and cooperation between the north and the south” while buying more weapons from the United States.
“There is no room for doubt that the delivery of F-35A, which is also called an ‘invisible lethal weapon,’ is aimed at securing military supremacy over the neighboring countries in the region and especially opening a ‘gate’ to invading the north in time of emergency on the Korean peninsula,” he said.
The official also slammed South Korea’s military acquisition as an “extremely dangerous action which will trigger our reaction,” and said Pyongyang had “no other choice but to develop and test the special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.”
South Korea took delivery of its first two F-35 jets in March, with more scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks. Seoul has agreed to buy a total of 40 of the advanced American aircraft, the last to be delivered by 2021.
Seoul has been engaged in diplomacy with Pyongyang since January 2018. It has expressed hope that a recent summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will help revive dialog between the Koreas.
“The south Korean authorities had better come to their senses before it is too late, shattering the preposterous illusions that an opportunity would come for improved inter-Korean relations if they follow in the footsteps of the United States,” the director said in the statement.
The two Koreas, which are technically still at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with a truce and not a peace treaty, agreed at a Pyongyang summit in September last year to take a step closer toward peace by turning the Korean Peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”
Under a deal signed at the summit, Kim and Moon agreed to halt military exercises, gradually remove landmines and guard posts within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and establish an extensive no-fly zone near their border.
Over the past months, talks have been underway between Washington and Pyongyang, but the dialog has achieved little progress, with the US-led sanctions against Pyongyang remaining in force despite several unilateral measures by Pyongyang toward denuclearization.
US President Donald Trump and Kim have met each other three times.