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North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in 2019. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

North Korea warned of possible "counteraction" if it finds the new U.S. deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia is a threat to its security, per a statement published by the state-run KCNA news agency Monday.

Details: The North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said both the U.S. security partnership with the U.K. and Australia, known as AUKUS, and the submarine deal were "extremely undesirable and dangerous acts which will upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region and trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race."

Why it matters: The comments come days after Chinese government officials responded to the deal by warning of an "arms race," and at a time when North Korea appears to be stepping up its missiles program.

Of note: The North Korean statement added: "Even a U.S. ally called the U.S. move a 'brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision' and 'a stab in the back'" — an apparent reference t0 comments by French government officials, angry that their $90 billion submarine deal with Australia was scrapped following the pact.

What they're saying: When asked for comment, the Defense Department referred Axios to last week's joint statement and press conference on AUKUS, during which officials spoke of pursuing peace in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • The Biden administration has stressed that Australia isn't seeking nuclear weapons and that all three AUKUS countries are committed to non-proliferation.
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday that French officials knew his government had "deep and grave concerns" about the original submarines plan.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Facing existential threat from climate change, Pacific Islanders urge world to listen

Climate organizer Moñeka De Oro (left), Guam Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio and Micronesia Climate Change Alliance. Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Courtesy of MCCA and the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability

Decades after Pacific Islanders first raised the alarm, the rest of the world is finally catching up: The climate crisis is here, and it's accelerating.

Why it matters: Pacific Islanders, whose nations face an existential threat from climate change, were a major force behind the Paris Agreement. Heading into November's UN climate summit, they are calling for greater urgency in meeting the goals of the accord, and more direct action from world leaders — especially President Biden.

Updated 9 mins ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

2 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.