North Korea warns west forging ‘Asian version of NATO’

The United States, Japan and South Korea are forging a military alliance in Asia that bears strong similarities to NATO, the North Korean Foreign Ministry has warned, slamming the actions of the three countries as a threat to regional stability.

In a statement on Sunday cited by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang “strongly denounced” what it called “reckless and provocative military muscle-flexing” by Washington, Tokyo and Seoul, referring specifically to the Freedom Edge military drills.

The exercise, which took place between June 27 and 29, was designed to “promote trilateral interoperability and protect freedom for peace and stability”, and featured a number of warships, including the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, according to the US Navy.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry claimed the real goal of the US is “world domination” and encirclement of independent states. This policy “has already crossed the red-line and is bringing about a very negative change in the world security environment”, the statement reads.

According to Pyongyang, the Freedom Edge drill was an attempt to cement a military bloc comprising the US, Japan and South Korea, which has committed to “cope with any threat faced by one of the three”. This provision, North Korean officials have argued, is reminiscent of the NATO collective defense clause – which means that an attack on one member must be treated as an attack on all members.

”This means that the US-Japan-ROK [South Korea] relations have taken on the full-fledged appearance of Asian version [of] NATO,” the ministry stressed.

North Korea has long protested against US exercises near the Korean peninsula, seeing them as rehearsals for a possible invasion. Pyongyang has also conducted numerous artillery and missile tests in the area.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has stated the US-led military bloc has no plans to expand into Asia, but stressed that it must respond to the ever-changing security landscape in the region, as it could have serious repercussions far beyond. In 2021, the US, UK, and Australia established a security partnership called AUKUS which saw Washington and London commit to assisting Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.

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