North Korea tests submarine-launched missile, Seoul confirms

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Monday it had carried out tests of cruise missiles launched by submarines, days after its leader Kim Jong Un ordered his troops to be ready to push back the “frenzied movements of preparation for war” of his rivals.
Sunday’s test came a day before the US and South Korean militaries begin large-scale joint military exercises that North Korea sees as a rehearsal for the invasion.
North Korea’s official news agency, the Korean Central News Agency, said on Monday that the missile launches showed the North’s determination to respond with “overwhelmingly powerful forces” to the intensification of military maneuvers by “the US imperialists and South Korean puppet forces”.
KCNA has also hinted that the North aims to arm tested cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.
He said the missiles flew for more than two hours, drawing figure-eight patterns in the waters off the country’s east coast, and hit targets 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away. The missiles were fired from ship 8.24 Yongung, KCNA said, referring to a submarine North Korea has used to conduct all of its known submarine-launched ballistic missile tests since 2016.
Sunday’s actions were the North’s first underwater missile tests since the country tested a weapon from a silo under an indoor tank last October. Last May, the country tested a short-range ballistic missile from the same ship.
North Korea’s mastery of submarine-launched missile systems would make it harder for adversaries to detect launches in advance and provide the North with a retaliatory attack capability. Experts say it would take years, considerable resources and major technological upgrades for the heavily sanctioned nation to build multiple submarines that could quietly travel the seas and reliably execute strikes.
After a record number of missile tests last year, North Korea has carried out several additional launches since January 1. Ahead of Sunday’s launches, the country also tested an intercontinental ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching the American mainland; nuclear-capable short-range missiles designed to strike South Korea; and other weapons.
Experts say Kim, who sees his nuclear arsenal as his best guarantee of security, is trying to pressure the United States to accept the North as a legitimate nuclear power and ease international economic sanctions.
Earlier on Monday, the South Korean military said it detected a submarine launch in waters near the North eastern port city of Sinpo on Sunday. Sinpo has a major submarine construction shipyard.
South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said South Korean and US intelligence services were analyzing details of the operation.
North Korea views regular military drills between South Korea and the United States as a major security threat, although allies say their drills are defensive. Some observers say North Korea is using its rivals’ drills as a pretext to test weapons and upgrade its nuclear arsenal in order to gain the upper hand in relations with the United States.
Last Thursday, Kim oversaw a live-fire artillery drill simulating attacks on a South Korean airfield. He ordered his army to maintain the ability to “massively respond” to enemy actions, according to KCNA.
The news agency reported on Sunday that Kim also convened a key military affairs meeting to adopt unspecified measures to make “more effective, powerful and offensive use of war deterrence” in light of US maneuvers. and South Korean.
The South Korean and American drills are scheduled to run until March 23. They include a computer simulation called Freedom Shield 23 and several combined field training exercises, collectively known as Warrior Shield FTX.
The computer simulation is designed to bolster allies’ defense and response capabilities in the face of North Korea’s growing nuclear threats and other changing security environments, according to the South Korean and U.S. military.
The last major allied field training, called Foal Eagle, took place in 2018, the military said.
In recent years, the United States and South Korea have canceled or scaled back some exercises to continue diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea and out of concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. The two countries have once again expanded their exercises after North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests in 2022 and adopted an increasingly aggressive nuclear doctrine.
In recent weeks, the United States has flown powerful long-range bombers for joint aerial exercises with South Korean fighter jets. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the deployment demonstrated the United States’ commitment to employing a full range of military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend its Asian ally in the event of an outright conflict with South Korea. North.


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