N Korea issues nuclear threat over US-S Korea space alliance

The warning comes after an unsuccessful US Air Force missile test.
By Lee Jeong-Ho for RFA
2023.11.02
Seoul, S. Korea
N Korea issues nuclear threat over US-S Korea space alliance In this file photo, an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S., Aug. 2, 2017. The U.S. conducted a Minuteman III test on Tuesday, provoking an angry North Korean response.
U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Ian Dudley/Handout via Reuters

North Korea issued a renewed threat to use nuclear weapons against the United States, calling the security collaboration between Washington and Seoul the actions of “war maniacs.”

“The spectrum of the U.S. nuclear threat, whether it be strategic or tactical, would not alter the response of our military: We will respond nukes with nukes,” the country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Friday.

“The military forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stand ready to execute the constitutional mandate to safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the rights and interests of the people,” KCNA added, using North Korea’s formal name. “In the face of any perceived military provocations, the DPRK’s stance is clear: to deliver an immediate, resounding, and decisive counteraction to the actions of those war maniacs.”

The report came as the U.S. Air Force conducted a test launch of the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday. The test, however, did not go as planned – the missile was deliberately destroyed mid-flight following the detection of an anomaly.

The launch was attended by a South Korean delegation, including Heo Tae-keun, the chief of defense policy at the South’s Ministry of National Defense. It was the first time in seven years that South Korean officials were present at a U.S. ICBM test, signaling a deepening of security ties between the two countries.

The enhanced cooperation has recently extended into the space domain, underscoring the expanding scope of the alliance. U.S. President Joe Biden and former South Korean President Moon Jae-in entered into in May 2021, ending bilateral missile guidelines that had long restricted Seoul’s development of missiles to under the range of 800 kilometers (500 miles). The South’s current President Yoon Suk Yeol is aiming to further boost space tech cooperation with the U.S.

South Korea has established itself as a global frontrunner in various tech domains, yet its space exploration endeavors have not kept pace with those of its neighbors, including China and Japan. Meanwhile, North Korea has conducted ICBM launches that could be considered as surpassing South Korea’s current advancements in space launch capability.

North Korea Friday checked the potential tech cooperation among the allies, labeling it a “hostile threat” to its sovereignty and security.

“The United States, through its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test launch, which notably involved the presence of its puppet military thugs, for the first time in seven years under the banner of extended deterrence strategy, has sent a clear message regarding the intended targets of its nuclear arsenal,” KCNA said.

“We are committed to persisting in our military efforts to fortify deterrence measures and bolster strategic security throughout the Korean Peninsula and the surrounding region,” it added.

Meanwhile, North Korea is solidifying its ties with Russia, and is likely to have received help in obtaining “satellite” launch technology from Moscow

“There is an indication that technical expertise has been sought from Russia, a factor that may enhance the likelihood of a successful launch [of North Korea’s satellite],” South Korean lawmaker Yoo Sang-beom told reporters Wednesday, after being briefed by the country’s spy agency in parliament.

North Korea is set to launch its “satellite,” in near future, according to Yoo, after it failed to launch satellites into space in May and August – a very public embarrassment to its leader Kim Jong Un.

Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.

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