SEOUL, March 25 (UPI) — Pyongyang criticized South Korea’s plans to acquire more fighter jets and air-to-surface missiles to scale up its weapons capacity against the North, amid efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Following reports last week that 170 Taurus missiles were delivered to the South this month, as agreed in 2016, 90 additional missiles are expected to be acquired from 2019 to 2020.
The German air-to-surface missiles can target North Korea‘s major weapons development facilities, including the main nuclear test site of Punggye-ri and the Sohae missile launch site.
North Korea’s propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri slammed the move to acquire extra Taurus missiles, warning the South not to “take actions that hinder the atmosphere for improving [inter-Korean] relations.”
“Its purchase of weapons targeting the same [Korean] people and continuing its frenzied schemes for military conflict is like smiling on the outside while sharpening the sword of provocation on the inside,” it said Saturday.
A column in the North’s regime paper Rodong Sinmun on Sunday also stressed that “negotiations and maneuvers for war cannot coincide.”
The daily blasted Seoul’s decision to deploy F-35A stealth fighter jets as well as the extra purchase of Taurus missiles, deeming such moves as “open provocations against the negotiating party” and a “dangerous move that counters the mood for reconciliation and unity.”
The South Korean military is set to unveil its first F-35A fighter jets this week but is expected to keep the ceremony low-key amid efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and hold talks on denuclearizing the North, Yonhap reported.