North Korea Fires Missiles as US Deploys Nuclear Submarine to South Korea

1
76
A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 19, 2023. North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into its eastern sea early Wednesday in what appeared to be a statement of defiance as the United States deploys a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

North Korea Missile Launches and US Submarine Deployment Escalate Regional Tensions

PYONGYANG – In a defiant move, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, prompting international alarm as the United States deployed a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades. The missile launches came amidst an already tense situation, with the U.S. and the United Nations Command trying to resolve the unusual case of a U.S. soldier crossing into North Korea while on a tour of a border village.

The two missiles were launched from an area near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and flew approximately 550 kilometers (341 miles) before landing in waters east of the Korean Peninsula. Fortunately, the Japanese military confirmed that the missiles landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, causing no harm to ships or aircraft.

The timing of the missile launches coincided with the arrival of the USS Kentucky, a nuclear-armed submarine, at the South Korean port city of Busan. This visit marks the first time a U.S. submarine with nuclear capabilities has visited South Korea since the 1980s. The Japanese Defense Minister, Yasukazu Hamada, expressed concern that the missiles may have made irregular maneuvers in flight, similar to a North Korean weapon modeled after Russia’s Iskander missile, designed for evading missile defenses.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff swiftly condemned North Korea’s missile launches as a “major provocation” that threatens peace and stability in the region. Both South Korean and U.S. militaries are closely monitoring the situation for any further weapons activities.

A TV screen shows a file image of a North Korea missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 19, 2023. North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into its eastern sea early Wednesday in what appeared to be a statement of defiance as the United States deploys a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
A TV screen shows a file image of a North Korea missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 19, 2023. North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into its eastern sea early Wednesday in what appeared to be a statement of defiance as the United States deploys a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in decades. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

The recent North Korean missile launches and the US deployment of a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea have heightened concerns over regional security and stability.

The recent missile launches are North Korea’s first ballistic activity since they tested a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile in July, showcasing its potential range to reach the U.S. mainland. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised that test and vowed to bolster the country’s nuclear capabilities in response to perceived provocations from the U.S. and South Korea.

Tensions in the region have escalated as North Korea conducted around 100 missile tests since the start of 2022, seeking to demonstrate its ability to launch nuclear attacks on both South Korea and the continental United States. In response, the U.S. and South Korea increased joint military training and agreed to deploy strategic assets, such as long-range bombers, aircraft carriers, and submarines to the region.

The periodic visits of U.S. nuclear ballistic missile-capable submarines to South Korea were part of a series of agreements reached between President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in April, aimed at addressing North Korea’s growing nuclear threat. The agreements also involved expanding combined military exercises, strengthening joint planning for nuclear contingencies, and establishing a bilateral Nuclear Consultative Group.

The USS Kentucky’s deployment to South Korea reflects the United States’ commitment to “extended deterrence,” assuring South Korea of its full military support, including nuclear capabilities. However, some South Korean conservatives expressed disappointment that the agreements did not include the stationing of U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea.

Experts believe that placing nuclear weapons offshore and on submarines can be a more potent deterrent, as the location of strategic assets remains unknown to adversaries. Nevertheless, striking a balance between the visibility of these assets and their deterrent effect is essential for ensuring regional stability.

Read Also: Attempt By North Korea To Put Spy Satellite In Orbit Not New But Alarming, Say Analysts

The situation remains tense as international leaders closely monitor developments in the region, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States and its allies in the Korean Peninsula. – ASSOCIATED PRESS