North Korea on Tuesday ratcheted up its criticism of South Korea’s military procurement projects and a recent joint exercise it undertook with the US Marines, but struck a different tone on Iran’s efforts to expand its military capabilities.
In an editorial titled “Unjustifiable move,” the state-run Rodong Sinmun denounced the South Korean military, saying the South had damaged the inter-Korean detente by purchasing an air-refueling tanker and surface-to-air missiles and by holding a joint exercise with the US Marines.
But the newspaper’s tone was much more positive in an article describing Iran’s efforts to expand its military capabilities -- in contrast, it praised the Middle Eastern country for being “proactive” in dealing with the US security threat.
|North Korea`s leader Kim Jong-un. Yonhap|
“Iran has been under continuous sanctions and military threats from the US, and security tension in the region has been escalating,” the newspaper said. “Iran views military strength as crucial insurance for security and accelerating the efforts to protect its sovereign right.
“That is the purpose of small and big military exercises that have been taking place regularly. … Iran is seeking to maintain its permanent combat capabilities and demonstrate military might (that can’t be ignored) against aggressive forces.”
North Korea has maintained close relations with Iran for decades, possibly out of a sense of shared antagonism toward the US. Iran warned North Korea not to trust US President Donald Trump after he held his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June.
In August, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The meeting came just a day after Trump reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.
While the Rodong Sinmun described the Iranian military exercises as crucial to maintaining the country’s readiness posture against the US, South Korea’s joint exercise with the US was described as a “dress rehearsal” for an invasion of the North.
“The South Korean military has used various excuses to justify their military movements…… Conducting a war rehearsal for the same Korean people and sticking to military build-up cannot be justified whatsoever.”
The newspaper also criticized the South Korean military for displaying an attitude “incompatible” with the mood of inter-Korean detente by purchasing items such as an air-refueling tanker and an advanced anti-missile system.
South Korea’s first air-refueling tanker, the A330 MRTT, arrived on the peninsula last week. Earlier this month, the Ministry of National Defense decided to purchase Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles from the US.