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North Korea calls U.S. lifting of S. Korea missile restrictions a "hostile act"

North Korean state media said Monday that the removal of missile restrictions on South Korea by the United States was a hostile act. File photo by KCNA/UPI
North Korean state media said Monday that the removal of missile restrictions on South Korea by the United States was a "hostile act." File photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, May 31 (UPI) -- North Korea on Monday criticized an agreement by the United States to end decades-long restrictions on South Korea's missile development, calling it "hostile" and a "blunder," and warning that it would exacerbate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"This means a green-light for [S]outh Korea to develop missile with all parts of the DPRK and neighboring countries in the striking range," said a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

"It is apparently deliberate and hostile act that the U.S. lifted the firing range limit," the statement, attributed to international affairs critic Kim Myong Chol, said.

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The restrictions, which were first introduced in 1979, originally limited South Korea-developed missiles to a flight range of 180 kilometers (112 miles) and a payload of 500 kilograms (1102 pounds.) The guidelines were revised multiple times over the years, extending the maximum range to 800 kilometers (497 miles) and waiving the warhead weight limit.

The removal of all restrictions was announced on May 21, during a visit by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the United States for a summit with President Joe Biden.

Moon called the move a "symbolic and substantive measure to demonstrate the solidity of the ROK-U.S. alliance," during a joint press conference at the White House.

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The Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.

"The U.S. act of giving free 'missile' rein to [S]outh Korea is all meant to spark off arms race on the Korean Peninsula and in its surrounding areas and check the development of the DPRK,"said the KCNA article, which was the first comment by North Korea on the results of the Moon-Biden summit.

The move is "a serious blunder" that could lead to an "acute and instable situation on the Korean Peninsula now technically at war," the statement continued.

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The Biden administration completed its North Korea policy review last month, taking what it has called a "calibrated and practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy" with Pyongyang.

The KCNA article dismissed the Biden administration's approach as "just trickery."

"The target of the DPRK is not the [S]outh Korean army but the U.S.," the statement added.

Washington's nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang have stalled out since a summit between then-President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February 2019 ended without an agreement.

Biden has said that he is willing to meet with Kim Jong Un, but not without certain conditions in place.

"I would not do what had been done in the recent past," Biden said at a joint press conference with Moon. "I would not give [Kim] all that he's looking for: international recognition as legitimate and allow him to move in a direction of appearing to be more serious about what he was not at all serious about."

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