North Korea has issued a harsh criticism of plans by the U.S. and Britain to proliferate nuclear powered attack submarines to Australia, which will make the Royal Australian Navy the seventh in the world to field such assets and the first non-nuclear weapons state to do so. An official statement from Pyongyang warned: “The U.S. has recently struck the trilateral security partnership with Britain and Australia, and decided to transfer the technology of building a nuclear-powered submarine to Australia. 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,” adding that “it is quite natural that neighbouring countries including China condemned these actions as irresponsible ones.” It stressed that the deal was “destroying the peace and stability of the region and the international nuclear non-proliferation system,” slamming the “double-dealing attitude” of the U.S. which it claimed was “the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear non-proliferation system.”
The proliferation of nuclear attack submarines to Australia, which like those in the U.S. Navy will be fuelled by highly enriched weapons grade uranium, was cited as evidence that the international security environment requires Pyongyang to focus work on “bolstering the capabilities for national defence.” Several countries, including Russia and China, expressed concerns that the Australian agreement could violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and pave the way towards Australia becoming the world’s tenth nuclear weapons state. North Korea became the world’s ninth nuclear weapons state some time between 1992 and 2006, citing American threats to use nuclear weapons against it or otherwise seek to invade as a pretext to withdraw from the nuclear weapons treaty and develop a nuclear arsenal independently. The country demonstrated the ability to strike the U.S. mainland in 2017. North Korea and the United States have been technically at war for over 70 years.