South Korea tested it’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile Wednesday shortly after North Korea launched its own ballistic missiles, which landed in international waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s launch was part of a prescheduled event to test a domestically-built missile. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said the president and other officials got to observe the missile successfully strike its designated target, The Associated Press reported.
Moon said the successful test will help serve as “a sure deterrence against North Korean provocation.” The United States also maintains a presence of nearly 28,000 troops in South Korea to serve as an additional deterrence against North Korean aggression.
“Possessing [a submarine-launched ballistic missile] is very meaningful in terms of securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats and it is expected to play a big role in self-reliant national defense and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula, going forward,” Moon’s office said in a statement.
Experts believe that North Korea is expanding its weapons systems in an effort to pressure the United States into giving the communist nation relief from sanctions.
“North Korea is trying to communicate a message that things will not go as Washington wishes, if it doesn’t accept the North’s demands,” said Moon Seong Mook, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy.
The analyst said Kim Jung-un, the dictatorial leader of North Korea, likely believes President Joe Biden will cave on the sanctions due to distractions related to the chaotic withdrawal and evacuation from Afghanistan that left 13 service members dead and thousands of Americans stranded behind enemy lines.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the launches from North Korea threated “peace and safety” in the region.
“The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous,” the prime minister said, according to The Associated Press. “The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”
On Monday, North Korea said it tested a recently developed cruise missile over the weekend, with state media describing it as a “strategic weapon of great significance,” Fox News reported. The Korean Central News Agency said the missiles demonstrated they could strike targets at least 930 miles away.
The launches this week are the first since March, as North Korea’s communist dictator Kim Jong-un dealt with COVID-19, massive flooding and border closures.