N Korea Test-Fires “Strategic” Cruise Missiles Ahead of US-S Korea Drills
Story Code : 1046475
The North's official Korean Central News Agency [KCNA] carried the report early Monday, saying the launch had taken place from waters off the eastern coastal city of Sinpo a day earlier.
The projectiles flew some 1,500 kilometers [932 miles] before hitting a target in the sea, the report said.
"Strategic" is typically used to describe nuclear-capable weapons.
The launch used a "8.24 Yongung" submarine, North Korea's only experimental ballistic missile submarine. Analysts say it plays a critical role in the development of missiles, submarine technology and operational procedures, as well as hands-on training of new submariners.
The KCNA said the submarine launches were aimed at showing North Korea's determination to control a situation in which "the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces are getting evermore undisguised in their anti-DPRK military maneuvers." DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The new missile launch came just as South Korea and the US were scheduled to begin 11 days of joint drills, dubbed "Freedom Shield 23," which will be held on a scale not seen since 2017. The drills feature field exercises, including amphibious landings.
The allies have held several joint drills since the beginning of the year. Pyongyang views the war games as potential rehearsals for invasion of its territory.
In a rare move, the South Korean military this month revealed that special forces belonging to Seoul and Washington were staging "Teak Knife" military exercises, which involved simulating precision strikes on key facilities in North Korea.
Last year, the North declared itself an "irreversible" nuclear power and conducted a record number of missile launches and drills in an effort to boost its nuclear deterrence and make more weapons fully operational.
On Thursday, the country's leader Kim Jong Un, who was overseeing a short-range ballistic missile [SRBM] launching exercise, ordered his military to intensify drills to prepare for a "real war."
Also on Sunday, Kim led a ruling party meeting to discuss and decide on "important, practical measures" to boost the country's war deterrence in the midst of stepped-up actions by the US and South Korea.
Washington has, on the other hand, repeatedly asserted its "ironclad" commitment to what it calls defending South Korea through using the "full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear."