North Korea fired several cruise missiles toward the Yellow Sea on Saturday, according to the South Korean military, in an apparent response to recent moves by Seoul and Washington to deter Pyongyang from using nuclear weapons.
The South Korean and U.S. militaries were confirming the details of the launches, which took place at about 4 a.m. and came after Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan on Wednesday.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it will closely cooperate with the United States and monitor North Korea’s activities.
The latest missile launches followed the first meeting of the so-called Nuclear Consultative Group on Tuesday in Seoul at which South Korea and the United States agreed to hold joint military exercises and war simulations to deter North Korea from using nuclear weapons.
A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine capable of carrying ballistic missiles also paid a rare visit that day to the port city of Busan in South Korea.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday cited the country’s defense minister, Kang Sun Nam, as saying in a statement that the “ever-increasing visibility of the deployment of the strategic nuclear submarine and other strategic assets may fall under the conditions of the use of nuclear weapons specified in the DPRK law.”
DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea has been ramping up its display of military force ahead of the 70th anniversary next week of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically in a state of war.
In March, North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles off its eastern coast toward the Sea of Japan.
Cruise missiles can travel at low altitudes, making them difficult to detect. They are not covered by U.N. Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.