North Korea’s state media has lashed out at the US, Japan, and South Korea after they announced plans to share real-time data on Pyongyang’s missile launches.
The information sharing pact was described as “sinister measures” after the leaders of the three countries met at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, over the weekend and agreed to deepen trilateral cooperation on security.
In a commentary published in KCNA under the name of Kang Jin Song, an international affairs analyst said the pact is a result of US efforts to incite confrontation and boost its military edge in the region by “cooking up the ‘Asian-version Nato’”.
“This is heightening the vigilance of regional countries including the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to the maximum,” it said, using the initials of the country’s official name.
The commentary also criticised other US-led military alliances, including the AUKUS pact with Britain and Australia, the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance and the Quad group of nations, which also includes India, Australia and Japan, as exclusionary and confrontational.
The pact between the three countries was first announced at a trilateral summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last November.
It was then described as an effort to improve each of the members’ ability to detect and assess the threat posed by incoming missiles, a major step for deterrence, peace and stability.
The discussions in Hiroshima this weekend included new coordination in the face of North Korea’s increasing nuclear and missile threats along with economic security, and on their respective Indo-Pacific Strategies, the White House said.
It came as North Korea undertook a record number of missile and weapons tests in recent months.
Meanwhile, a report by 38 North – a Washington-based thinktank – said on Thursday that construction at North Korea’s satellite launching station hit a new level of urgency.
Citing satellite imagery from Monday the report said progress on a new launch pad in a coastal area east of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station is moving forward at a “remarkable pace”.
“While the key components of the Sohae complex have been undergoing modernisation and expansion over the past year, this uptick in activity suggests a new level of urgency in making the site ready to accommodate satellite launches,” the report said.
The new launch pad appears to feature a rail-mounted assembly structure, a possible mechanism for lifting a rocket into place, lighting towers and a tunnel for funnelling flames away, it said.
If the launch pad is meant to service liquid-fuelled rockets, additional infrastructure will most likely be needed, the report added.
At the main launchpad, images showed crews appear to have completed modifications to the gantry tower, while work continues on a storage for fuel and oxidizer.
A new area for VIPs to observe launches also appears largely completed, the think tank said.
Last month, 38 North said satellite images from 3 March and 17 March at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center indicated that an Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) was nearing completion and transition to operational status.
Additional reporting by agencies