N. Korea denounces Sweden, Finland over NATO application

SEOUL-- North Korea's foreign ministry on Friday denounced Sweden and Finland for their expected applications to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and accused the United States of political motives behind the move.

In a post on its website, the ministry said that the NATO membership of the Nordic countries will only aggravate military confrontation with Russia and "upset" military balance in the Baltic Sea area.

"The above facts prove that the U.S. and the West are taking the Ukrainian situation as a golden opportunity to compress the strategic space of Russia by tightening the encircling net around Russia," it argued.

The ministry then warned that such moves by the U.S. and other western nations will inevitably provoke stronger reaction from Russia.

Pyongyang's message came as the White House stated that Washington can "address any concerns either country may have about the period of time between a NATO membership application and the formal accession to the alliance."

In a separate piece, the ministry stressed that U.S. sanctions against Russia have proven to be futile, saying that Moscow posted a current account surplus of US$58 billion in the first quarter this year.

It also claimed that European countries are "recently crying out in fear" that the suspension of gas imports from Russia could lead to a serious economic crisis.

"The reality clearly shows that the stick of sanctions wielded by the U.S. and the West against Russia rather turns out to be a boomerang which flies back to their throat muscles," it added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency