North Korea’s to be expected muscle-flexing has begun in response to the US and South Korea going ahead with recently announced joint military exercises, expected to be one of the largest joint drills between the allies in recent history.
On Sunday North Korea fired at least one missile from the Sea of Japan. Notably it was from a submarine, which is a rarity given the past year’s spate of land-based launches. The Hill notes that “North Korea claimed to have fired two missiles from a submarine in the sea, but South Korean military officials said they only tracked one missile fired from the submarine near the North Korean port city of Sinpo.”
The sub-fired missile serves as a warning in conjunction with this week’s kick-off of 11 days of US-South Korea joint military exercises dubbed ‘Freedom Shield‘. T
The drills have been previewed as being the largest in a half-decade. The launch came within less than 24 hours of the start of the US drills. CNN details:
North Korea launched two missiles from a submarine in waters off its east coast over the weekend, according to state media, and vowed to take “the toughest counteraction” against the largest joint military drills by the United States and South Korea in years that kick off Monday.
Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said the “strategic cruise missiles” were launched on Sunday morning from a “8.24 Yongung” submarine in the Sea of Japan, also known in Korea as the East Sea. The same vessel was used to test North Korea’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile in 2016, CNN previously reported.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has lately warned of “unprecedented strong responses” to the joint drills if they go ahead, while his sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned that “the frequency of using the Pacific Ocean as our shooting range depends on the nature of the US military’s actions,” according to a prior statement posted on the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
So at a moment the war in Ukraine’s east continues to intensify, and as Beijing is flexing its muscle over Taiwan reunification, yet another conflict theatre could open up where Washington is on the ‘defensive’ as hawks try take a stand in bolstering US allies.