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Korea vows to respond to South’s purchase of F-35 jets

Korea vows to respond to South’s purchase of F-35 jets

South Korea is to buy 40 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin by 2021.

North Korea has slammed South Korea for purchasing high-tech USA stealth fighters, warning that it will respond by developing unspecified special weapons of its own.

A Japanese trade ministry official says restrictions imposed by Japan on high-tech exports to South Korea were prompted by a review of trade policy, and are not related to a growing diplomatic dispute over South Korean court rulings that ordered Japanese companies to compensate South Koreans forced to work under harsh conditions during World War II. The first two arrived in March and two others are to be delivered in coming weeks, according to Seoul officials.

The official also said there had been some "inappropriate" cases involving Japanese exports to South Korea, but they did not involve shipments to a third country such as North Korea.

Kim shifted his focus to the economy a year ago, launched nuclear talks with the United States and moved to revamp his image as a world leader via summits with South Korea, China and Russian Federation.

In a statement denouncing Seoul for its recent acquisition of a number of new stealth jets from the US, an unnamed policy director at the foreign ministry's Institute for American Studies said the move would serve to heighten tensions on the peninsula.

The North's Foreign Ministry says it has "no other choice but to develop and test the special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea".

"If the result of the investigation reveals that our government did something wrong, our government will apologize for it and immediately apply measures to correct it", said Kim, reading a prepared statement on live TV.

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South Korea has proposed an investigation by the United Nations or another worldwide body as it continues to reject Japanese claims that Seoul could not be trusted to faithfully implement sanctions against North Korea.

The statement from Seoul's presidential Blue House came while Kim Hyun-chong, another South Korean presidential official, was in Washington for meetings with officials from the White House and Congress as Seoul sought US help to end its diplomatic row with Japan.

Kim You-geun, deputy director of South Korea's presidential national security office, said South Korea has been thoroughly implementing United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

South Korean liberal President Moon Jae-in, who favors a negotiated resolution of the nuclear crisis, shuttled between Washington and Pyongyang previous year to facilitate a flurry of diplomacy between the countries.

But since the Vietnam summit, North Kore has significantly reduced diplomatic activity and exchanges with South Korea and demanded that Seoul break away from Washington and resume inter-Korean economic projects held back by USA -led sanctions against the North. His warm meetings with Trump may be paying off too as the USA appeared to shift away from its unconditional denuclearization-first stance on what it would take to lift sanctions against North Korea and toward a step-by-step process.

Tensions were raised in May when North Korea fired short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017, during a standstill in its talks with Washington over denuclearisation.

Kim Dong-yub, an analyst from Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said Thursday's statement suggests that North Korea may perform an anti-air missile test, but not a ballistic one that is banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions.