By Kim Young-jin
North Korea on Tuesday sharply criticized Seoul for its agreement with Washington to nearly triple its missile range, calling it a preparation for invasion.
"The latest missile policy announcement is designed to bring the condition of the Korean Peninsula to extremes and light the fuse to randomly invade and wage a war with the North," a spokesman for Pyongyang’s National Defense Commission said in a dispatch carried by state television.
The remark came two days after Seoul announced the deal, which allows the South to extend the range of its ballistic missiles from the current 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers, covering all of the North. The South is planning to deploy longer range missiles by 2017.
The spokesman added that the agreement was the result of “collusion between a master and a subordinate," and in a separate release carried by the Korean Central News Agency, threatened retaliation.
"We are well prepared to fight with nuclear (weapons) against any nuclear (attacks) by the U.S. and its followers or with missiles against missiles," the spokesman said.
Seoul and Washington want the North to take verifiable steps to curb its program before the resumption of multiparty negotiations.
Meanwhile other media in neighboring countries have expressed concern over the extension, with China’s Xinhua saying it “runs counter to a global arms control agreement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime” and Japanese media saying it could ramp up inter-Korean tensions.
Scott Snyder, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, said the concerns should be taken into account but that the development of South-U.S ties warranted the move. Seoul plans to retake wartime operational control from of its troops in 2015.
“The nature of the U.S.-ROK security alliance at this stage in its development suggests that Seoul should pursue its security strategies and capabilities development based on its own assessment of the regional security environment and not strictly as an alliance issue.”