Nuclear-armed North Korea test-fired two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine on Sunday, state news agency KCNA said on Monday, just as U.S.-South Korea military drills were due to begin. “Strategic” is typically used to describe weapons that have a nuclear capability. KCNA said the launch confirmed the reliability of the system and tested the underwater offensive operations of the submarine units that form part of North Korea’s nuclear deterrent.
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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the military was on high alert and the country’s intelligence agency was working with its U.S. counterpart to analyse the specifics of the launch. On Monday, South Korean and American troops were scheduled to begin 11 days of joint drills, dubbed “Freedom Shield 23,” which will be held on a scale not seen since 2017. The drills will strengthen the allies’ combined defensive posture, the two militaries have said, and will feature field exercises including amphibious landings. North Korea has long bristled over drills it regards as a rehearsal for invasion.
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