North Korea lambasted U.S. efforts to build a missile defense system and vowed to increase its "self-defense deterrent," a term that the communist regime usually uses to refer to its nuclear program.
"The U.S. is claiming that it is building a global missile defense system to protect against missile attacks from our nation and Iran. This is a childish pretext," the North's ministry said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
"We cannot but further strengthen our self-defense deterrent if (an) arms race intensifies because of the U.S. maneuvers," it said.
The North Korean warning came as Russia seemed reluctant to respond to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' assertion that the Bush administration will not replace its plan for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe with Moscow's counterproposal for a radar site in Azerbaijan.