A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending the test-firing of a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at an undisclosed location in North Korea, 12 July 2023 (issued 13 July 2023). EFE-EPA FILE/KCNA EDITORIAL USE ONLY

North Korea fires cruise missiles into Yellow Sea

Seoul, Jul 22 (EFE).- North Korea on Saturday fired several cruise missiles into the Yellow Sea, according to the South Korean military, an apparent response to the arrival in South Korea of a United States submarine and a meeting between Seoul and Washington.

A view of the US ballistic missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) anchored at the South Korean naval operations base in Busan, southeast of Seoul, South Korea, 19 July 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/WOOHAE CHO / POOL

South Korean and US intelligence, which are analyzing the launches, said they took place around 4 am (19:00 GMT Friday), although the type and other details are still unknown, the Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The launch comes three days after North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, in another apparent response to the arrival in the South of a US nuclear-capable submarine and the first meeting of the allies’ Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG).

“Our military has bolstered surveillance and vigilance while closely cooperating with the United States and maintaining a firm readiness posture,” the JCS said in the statement, adding that it is closely monitoring any further activity from the North.

Following the first NCG session this week, US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell announced the arrival in Busan (350 kilometers southeast of Seoul) of the USS Kentucky, the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the first of its kind to visit South Korea in some 40 years.

Both the establishment of the NCG and the dispatch of the submarine were agreed upon in April with the signing of the Washington Declaration by the presidents of the US and South Korea.

South Korean visitors walk toward a wire fence decorated with ribbons at Imjingak Park near the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Paju, Gyeonggi-do Province, South Korea, 20 July 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/JEON HEON-KYUN

In the document, the US promised to reinforce the “extended deterrence” through which it protects its ally and seeks to discourage Pyongyang from continuing with the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Saturday’s launches also come after a US soldier on Wednesday crossed the border into North Korea, where he is currently being held. EFE