North Korea’s state media has reported South Korea’s acquisition of American F-35 stealth fighter jets will force North Korea to develop and test “special armaments” to destroy the new weapons
South Korean authorities are “impudent and pitiful” for “talking loudly about reconciliation and cooperation between the north and the south” while buying more weapons from the United States, an unnamed policy research director at the Institute for American Studies of North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.
“There is no room for doubt that the delivery of ‘F-35A’, which is also called an ‘invisible lethal weapon’, is aimed at securing military supremacy over the neighboring countries in the region and especially opening a ‘gate’ to invading the north in time of emergency on the Korean peninsula,” the statement said.
“We, on our part, have no other choice but to develop and test the special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.”
In September 2014, South Korea announced a deal to procure 40 F-35 fighters in a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) deal worth about $6.1 billion.
South Korea took delivery of its first two F-35 jets in March, with more slated to arrive this year.
The South Korean government didn’t immediately respond to the North’s statement. But arms procurement officials said the F-35 project would proceed as scheduled and that about 10 of the 40 jets were to be delivered by the end of this year.
The latest statement didn’t criticize the U.S. directly. It was seen as more of a continuation of North Korea’s sensitivity to the introduction of sophisticated U.S. weapons on the Korean Peninsula, and dissatisfaction with Seoul since the Vietnam summit’s breakdown.
Despite the warning, it’s unclear if North Korean can conduct a major weapons test any time soon because that would likely disrupt a positive atmosphere after the June 30 summit between Trump and Kim at the Korean border village of Panmunjom.