North Korea warns of 'arms race' in France-Australia submarine row

Published : September 20, 2021 17:36 IST

North Korea said a secruity pact and nuclear-submaring deal could lead to arms race. Photo: Amanda R. Gray/U.S. Navy via AP/picture alliance

Pyongyang has said it would take action if a new Indo-Pacific alliance between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. had "even the smallest negative effect" on North Korea's security.

North Korea said on September 20 that a U.S.-Australia submarine deal, coupled with the new Indo-Pacific defense pact between the U.S., Australia and United Kingdom, could cause an "arms race." State media quoted a foreign ministry official as saying: "These are extremely undesirable and dangerous acts which will upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region and trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race."

What caused the row between France and Australia?

Last week, France recalled its ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia, after a decision from Canberra to purchase nuclear-powered submarines from the U.S. U.S. President Joe Biden announced an alliance involving Australia and Britain, which would involve the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines from the U.S.

The decision sunk a multi-billion dollar deal Australia had with France. Under that agreement French defense contractor Naval Group would build 12 submarines. The blindside led to the angry diplomatic response from Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron and Biden are expected to discuss the matter in the coming days.

Continued tension on the Korean Peninsula

The soured relations among Western allies comes amid a number of missile tests conducted by the Korean neighbors. North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles last week. A few days before that state media reported the successful launch of a new long-range cruise missile capable of hitting targets 1,500 kilometers (932 miles).

South Korea meanwhile successfully fired a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The North didn't appear to be too impressed with Seoul's technology advancements.

The head of Pyongyang's defence science agency Jang Chang Ha, called the effort, a "clumsy piece of work," adding, "the homegrown SLBM unveiled by South Korea will not be able to serve as an effective means of attack at war." While Jang said the South's SLBM test was rudimentary it did display level of intent.

"The South's enthusiastic efforts to improve submarine weapons systems clearly presage intensified military tension on the Korean peninsula," Jang said.

kb/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)