On Monday, North Korea test-fired two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine in apparent reaction as its southern neighbor and the United States began their biggest joint military exercise in five years.

Nuclear-armed Pyongyang said the test confirmed it had “multidimensional nuclear war deterrents” as it derailed a 10-day exercise known as “Freedom Shield” from Monday as part of an allied effort to counter a growing North Korean offensive. . threats.

“Two strategic cruise missiles accurately hit their intended target in the East Sea of ​​Korea,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Technically, North Korea is not banned from launching cruise missiles under current UN sanctions, although tests related to its nuclear arsenal are banned.

The KCNA report said the test was due to the US and South Korea “becoming increasingly overt in their military maneuvers against the DPRK,” referring to the North by its official name.

The South Korean military said it had seen at least one unidentified missile fired from a North Korean submarine on Sunday morning.

Photographs and videos released by North Korean state media show the 8.24 Yongung submarine and missile flying into the sky from the water, leaving white smoke and flames in their wake.

Analysts say there remain “tremendous doubts” about how advanced the North’s submarine program is.

Park Won Gun, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said state media images suggested the missile was launched over water.

“Then there’s no point in firing from a submarine because there’s no stealth here,” Park told AFP.

“North Korea claims that the weapons are deployed, but whether we believe this with certainty is another question.”

Defense training

The Freedom Shield exercise “includes wartime procedures to repel potential North Korean attacks and conduct a stabilization campaign in the north,” the South Korean military said.

It emphasized that the exercises were “defensive in nature, based on a combined operational plan.”

But North Korea sees all such exercises as a rehearsal for an invasion and has repeatedly warned that it will take “suppressive” action in response.

“North Korea fired missiles against the joint exercise,” said Go Myung-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

“He wants to emphasize that the reason for developing missiles is for self-defense.”

The foreign ministry in Pyongyang also released a statement on Monday sharply criticizing the United States for what it called “a vicious American human rights racket” after Washington said it would hold a UN meeting this week on abuses in North Korea.

Not all

Last year, North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power and fired a record number of missiles.

Leader Kim Jong Un last week ordered his military to step up exercises to prepare for “real war.”

Washington has repeatedly declared its “iron” commitment to the defense of South Korea, including using “the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear.”

South Korea, for its part, is seeking to reassure its increasingly nervous public about the US commitment to so-called extended deterrence, in which US military assets, including nuclear weapons, serve to prevent attacks on allies.

While both countries’ official policy toward North Korea, which calls for Kim to give up his nuclear weapons and return to the negotiating table, has not changed, experts say there has been a shift in practice.

The United States “virtually admitted that North Korea would never give up its nuclear program,” Ahn Chang-il, a defector-turned-researcher who runs the World Institute for North Korean Studies, told AFP.

The Freedom Shield exercise is the first since it happened, which means that it “will be very different – both qualitatively and quantitatively – from previous joint exercises that have taken place in recent years,” he added.

North Korea is likely to use this “pretext” to double its banned weapons programs, said Chun In-bum, a retired general in the South Korean army.

“Even after nuclear tests, new rocket launches with different styles and scales should be expected. New acts of intimidation by North Korea should come as no surprise.”

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Eddie Hudson is an Entertainment News Reporter and Fashion Stylist. Graduated with a degree in Television Production from Howard University. He is an award-winning entertainment news reporter at 24PalNews and credits his upbringing and passion for helping others as the foundation for his success.

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