SEOUL — North Korea criticized the ongoing transformation of the 2nd Infantry Division, saying in a commentary Wednesday the moves are a “grave provocation against the six-party talks” to resolve an ongoing dispute over the North’s weapons programs.

The commentary, carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, said the transformation of U.S. forces was one justification for the North to continue pursuing the nuclear weapons it claims to have.

“This fact suffices to clearly tell that it is quite natural for the DPRK to possess nuclear deterrent,” said KCNA, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The U.S. is stepping up its moves to reorganize its forces in South Korea prompted by its strategic purpose to hold military supremacy in Northeast Asia. The U.S. should not reorganize its aggressor forces in South Korea but totally withdraw them from it at an early date and immediately stop the reckless arms buildup and joint military exercises aimed to invade the DPRK,” the official news agency stated.

The KCNA article cited a Stars and Stripes interview with 2nd ID commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins, who outlined the moves now being undertaken.

Among the sweeping changes, which Higgins said were two years ahead of schedule, are transforming the 1st Brigade Combat Team to a “heavy” brigade; forming a multifunction Aviation Brigade and transforming the division to a Unit of Employment (UEX) combining division and corps functions.

“It is not a marginal change,” Higgins said in the interview earlier this month. “We are talking about a major paradigm shift in how we are organized at the division level and in organizations inside the division.”

The changes will involve deactivating some current 2nd ID units and moving others to bases elsewhere in the United States and the Pacific region.

If the United States does not change course, the KCNA commentary said, it will “drive the situation to confrontation and to the brink of war, will only precipitate its self-destruction."

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