North Korea says Biden administration took wrong first step over latest missile test

The country says the US president's criticism on their test encroached on its right to self defence

This photo provided by the North Korean government, shows what it says a test fire of newly developed new-type tactical guided projectile by the Academy of Defense Science, at an undisclosed place in  North Korea, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korea has said that the administration of US President Joe Biden had taken a wrong first step and revealed "deep-seated hostility" by criticising its "defensive" missile test.

North Korea on Thursday claimed it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile. Mr Biden said the test violated UN Security Council resolutions but said he remained open to diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Ri Pyong-chol, secretary of North Korea's ruling Worker's Party's Central Committee, said the missile test was in self-defence against threats posed by South Korea and the US with their joint military exercises and advanced weapons.

"We express our deep apprehension over the US chief executive faulting the regular test-fire exercise of our state's right to self-defence as a violation of UN 'resolutions' and openly revealing his deep-seated hostility," Mr Ri said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

Mr Biden's remarks were an "undisguised encroachment on our state's right to self-defence and a provocation," he said, adding Washington might face "something that is not good" if it continues to make "thoughtless remarks".

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"I think that the new US administration obviously took its first step wrong," Mr Ri said.

He accused the Biden administration of "exploiting every opportunity" to provoke Pyongyang by branding it as a "security threat".

The test came days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to work to denuclearise North Korea and criticised its "systemic and widespread" human rights abuses during his visit in Seoul with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

North Korea has also slammed the South Korea-US military exercises that ended last week, even though they were repeatedly scaled back to allow for a restart of denuclearisation talks with Pyongyang.

Mr Ri said Washington insisted on a "gangster-like logic" in bringing strategic nuclear assets to South Korea and testing intercontinental ballistic missiles at its convenience, but banning North Korea from testing even a tactical weapon.

"We cannot but build invincible physical power for reliably defending the security of our state under the present situation in which South Korea and the United States constantly pose military threats ... while persistently conducting dangerous war exercises and introducing advanced weapons," he said.

The White House, which said its North Korea policy review was in the "final stages", declined to comment. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But when asked earlier about the launch and whether it would affect the policy review, department spokeswoman Jalina Porter once again condemned the test as "destabilising".

"North Korea's unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programmes constitute serious threats to international peace and security," she said.

"I can't underscore enough that the president and his security team are continuing to assess the situation and one of our greatest priorities right now is ensuring that we're on the same page as our allies and partners."

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