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North Korea publishes its first response to the Moon Biden summit

SEOUL – North Korea’s state media on Monday criticized the United States for lifting restrictions on South Korea’s ability to build more powerful ballistic missiles in its first response to the summit meeting between President Biden and South Korea’s leader Moon Jae-in earlier this month .

North Korea warned that lifting restrictions would heighten tensions on the Korean peninsula and spark an arms race.

During the summit between Mr Biden and Mr Moon, the Allies agreed to end the so-called missile guidelines, which have been imposed on South Korea since 1979, which limited the range and warhead weight of ballistic missiles. South Korea was allowed to develop.

Washington had already lifted the payload limit on South Korean missiles before the summit to help the country counter the growing nuclear and missile threat to the north.

Until this month, however, South Korea was banned from developing ballistic missiles with a range of more than 797 kilometers. With the guidelines fully repealed, South Korea can now build ballistic missiles that can travel far beyond the peninsula, although it never announced such a plan.

The missile cap lifting “is a strong reminder of the hostile US policy towards the DPRK and its shameful double-dealing,” said a statement from the North Korean Central News Agency, using the acronym of the North Korean official’s name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

With the declaration, North Korean state media reacted for the first time to the Moon Biden summit. It was attributed to Kim Myong-chol, “an international affairs critic,” rather than a government agency, suggesting that Pyongyang is still developing an official government response.

North Korea has often used various channels, including official government statements or state media commentary such as the one on Monday, to respond to diplomatic announcements.

During their summit, Mr Biden and Mr Moon agreed to seek “diplomacy and dialogue” with the North, building on the 2018 Singapore Accord that former President Donald J. Trump had with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. had signed.

Washington also said it would require a “calibrated” and “hands-on” approach to the North, although Mr Biden said he would not meet with Mr Kim unless he first committed to eliminating the country’s nuclear weapons .

South Korea built its defense capabilities against North Korea in order to regain operational control over its own military in the long term. Operational control of the South Korean military during wartime has been in the hands of American generals since the Korean War of 1950-53.

In its statement on Monday, North Korea did not comment directly on Washington’s North Korea policy, simply saying that “many countries” see the policy as a “trick”. The statement described the repeal of the missile guidelines as “an apparently deliberate and hostile act”.

It also accused the United States of applying double standards by sanctioning the North’s development of ballistic missiles while “giving the green light to South Korea to develop missiles with all parts of the DPRK and neighboring countries within range. ”

By repealing the missile guidelines, Washington wanted to “start an arms race in the Korean peninsula and its surrounding areas and curb the development of the DPRK,” the statement said.

As North Korea’s arsenal has grown, South Korea has tried to keep up with building stronger missiles, some of which are capable of hitting North Korean underground missile bases and command bunkers.

North Korea launched a new ballistic missile in March – the country’s first such test in a year and its first major provocation against the United States under Mr Biden. His statement on Monday warned that the repeal of missile guidelines justified its own military buildup.

“Now that the US and South Korean authorities have made their aggression ambitions clear, they have no reason to blame the DPRK for strengthening their self-defense skills,” it said.

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