SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Monday it test-fired two cruise missiles from a submarine off its east coast, the latest in the country's series of weapons tests.
The test on Sunday came a day before the U.S. and South Korean militaries begin large-scale joint military drills that North Korea views as a rehearsal for invasion.
The official Korean Central News Agency said Monday that the missile launches were meant to confirm the reliability of the weapons system and gauge underwater-to-surface offensive operations of the country's submarine units. The missile tests show the North’s resolve to respond with “overwhelming powerful forces” to “the U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces," which the news agency said "are getting evermore undisguised in their anti-(North Korea) military maneuvers.”
North Korea has been pushing hard for years to acquire the ability to fire nuclear-armed missiles from submarines, the next key piece in an arsenal that includes a variety of weapons with the potential range to reach the U.S. mainland.
Earlier Monday, South Korea's military said it had detected the launch from a submarine in the waters near the North's eastern port city of Sinpo on Sunday.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were analyzing details of the operation.