North Korea launches submarine missile off of coast, say South Korean officials

The Japanese Ministry of Defence and South Korean media have revealed that North Korea appears to have fired a ballistic missile into the sea just days after the last test.

Kim Jong-un's missile was projected off the North Korean east coast, according to South Korea’s military, and Yonhap news agency believes it was a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Japan's defence ministry also confirmed this, as they tweeted that the projectile could be a ballistic missile.

Reports say there has been a significant increase in missile testing by North Korea this year, with leader Kim stating the exercises are being carried out to protect the country from foreign threats to the state, reports the Mirror.

In a speech at a military parade last week, he also claimed his nuclear force was not only tasked with preventing war through deterrence, but potentially carrying out strikes against anyone who violates the North's "fundamental interests.’'

On Wednesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast, South Korea and Japan said, after Pyongyang vowed to develop its nuclear forces "at the fastest possible speed".

The United States assessed that North Korea was preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and could be ready to conduct a test there as early as this month, State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said.

This incident comes as South Korea's president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol takes office on Tuesday.

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North Korea has said that it opposes war and that its nuclear weapons are for self-defence. They said the weapons are necessary to protect itself in the face of "hostile" policies from Washington, South Korea, and Japan.

On his comments about using the nuclear weapons to strike any country that violates North Korea's "fundamental" interests, analysts say he is outlining an ambiguous, and potentially destabilising doctrine.

"His speech sent a message that North Korea might possibly use nukes pre-emptively depending on the situation, and more freely pose nuclear threats if necessary going forward,'' said Cha Du-hyeogn, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

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