Monday, March 13, 2023

After North Korea's submarine missile launch, US-South Korean drills are starting

US-South Korea drills begin after North Korea submarine missile test

 SEOUL: The South Korean and US militaries sent off their greatest joint military practices in years Monday, as North Korea said it directed submarine-sent off journey rocket tests in evident dissent of the drills it sees as an attack practice.

Sunday's missile tests by North Korea suggest that the country will likely carry out provocative weapons testing during the 11-day US-South Korean drills. Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, issued an order to his troops last week to be ready to repel the "frantic war preparation moves" of its rivals.

The Freedom Shield 23 computer simulation and a number of combined field training exercises, collectively referred to as the Warrior Shield FTX, are included in the US-South Korea drills.

The specifics of Monday's drills were not immediately made public by US and South Korean authorities.

However, they previously stated that the computer simulation aims to improve the allies' defense and response capabilities in light of North Korea's growing nuclear threats and other shifting security conditions. They claimed that the scale of the field exercises would also return to that of their previous largest field training, Foal Eagle, which took place in 2018.

According to a recent statement from the US military, the purpose of the field exercises is to "improve upon tactics, techniques, and procedures" and "cooperate through air, land, sea, space, cyber and special operations" between the two militaries.

State media reported that North Korea's decision to launch two cruise missiles from a submarine off its east coast demonstrated its determination to respond with "overwhelmingly powerful" force to the intensifying military maneuvers of "the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces."

Monday, the official Korean Central News Agency of the North claimed that the missiles were "strategic weapons" and that their launches demonstrated the operational posture of the nation's "nuclear war deterrence." As a result, this suggests that North Korea intends to equip the cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.

It claimed that the missiles flew for more than two hours, struck targets 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away, and formed figure-eight patterns. According to KCNA, the missiles were launched from the 8.24 Yongung ship, a reference to the submarine North Korea used for its 2016 first submarine-launched ballistic missile test.

According to Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, the reported launch details indicate that Japan, including US military bases in Okinawa, is within striking distance of the cruise missiles if they are fired from the North's eastern waters. He went on to say that the weapons could even get to Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, if the submarine could operate further away from North Korean waters.

Since the North tested a weapon in October from a silo beneath an inland reservoir, Sunday's actions were the North's first underwater missile launches. The nation conducted a test launch of a short-range ballistic missile from the same submarine in May of that year.

By controlling submarine-launched missile systems, North Korea would be able to launch retaliatory attacks and make it more difficult for adversaries to anticipate launches. Experts say that the heavily sanctioned nation would need years, a lot of resources, and significant technological advancements to build a fleet of several submarines that could travel quietly in the sea and reliably carry out strikes.

The professor, Kim Dong-yub, said that the North had launched cruise missiles from a submarine for the first time since all of its previous underwater launches had involved ballistic missiles. He stated that North Korea is attempting to acquire a variety of missiles and launch platforms in order to improve its capability of evading detection prior to launch or interception while in flight.

The latest North Korean missile launches were confirmed by the South Korean military on Sunday as coming from a submarine in waters close to Sinpo, the North's eastern port city. Sinpo has a significant shipyard that builds submarines.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea, the country works closely with the United States to maintain readiness. It stated that the details of Sunday's launches were being examined by US and South Korean intelligence agencies.

North Korea has carried out a number of additional rounds since January 1 following a record number of missile tests last year. The nation also conducted a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which may have been able to reach the US mainland, prior to Sunday's launches; nuclear-capable, short-range missiles designed to strike South Korea; and additional weapons

According to experts, Kim is attempting to persuade the United States to recognize the North as a legitimate nuclear power and to relax international economic sanctions. Kim sees his nuclear arsenal as his best security guarantee.

Despite the allies' claims that their drills are defensive, North Korea perceives regular US-South Korea military exercises as a significant security risk. According to some observers, North Korea uses the drills of its rivals as a pretext to test weapons and upgrade its nuclear arsenal in order to gain an advantage over the United States.

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea, the United States and South Korea have canceled or reduced some drills in the past. After North Korea adopted an increasingly aggressive nuclear doctrine and carried out more than 70 missile tests in 2022, the two nations once more expanded their exercises.

For joint aerial exercises with South Korean fighter jets, the United States flew powerful, long-range bombers in recent weeks. According to the Defense Ministry of South Korea, the deployment showed that the United States would use all of its military resources, including nuclear ones, to defend its Asian ally in the event of a direct conflict with North Korea.

Kim oversaw a live-fire artillery exercise on Thursday that simulated attacks on a South Korean airfield. He requested his military to keep up with the capacity to "predominantly answer " to adversary activities, which he said included "a wide range of more rushed war planning moves" as indicated by KCNA.

In light of US and South Korean maneuvers, the news agency said that Kim also convened a crucial meeting on military affairs to adopt unspecified measures to make "more effective, powerful, and offensive use of the war deterrent."

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