North Korea has fired a submarine–launched ballistic missile, just two days after threatening a nuclear attack in retaliation to large-scale US and South Korean joint military exercises.
According to a statement released by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missile was launched off the North’s east coast in the Sea of Japan late on Tuesday.
Pyongyang has warned that the massive joint military exercises being held by the US and the South are pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula “to the brink of a war” and called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.
In a letter sent to the council, North Korea’s UN Ambassador Jan Song Nam accused Washington of “creating the danger of war” with the drills.
The Korean People’s Army (KPA) issued a statement Monday morning, threatening a “preemptive retaliatory strike,” should the war drills threaten Pyongyang’s sovereignty.
The annual two-week “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” maneuver, which is largely computer-simulated, started on Monday with the participation of 50,000 Korean and 30,000 US soldiers.
North Korea said in January it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, its fourth nuclear test, and vowed to build up its nuclear program as deterrence against potential aggression from the US and its regional allies.
A month later, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket which it said placed an earth observation satellite into orbit. Washington and Seoul denounced it as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
North Korea says it will not abandon its nuclear “deterrence” unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.