The North Korean Central News Agency reported that Pyongyang had conducted a test of an underwater nuclear weapon system. According to the agency, this test was in response to the joint military exercises conducted by South Korea, the United States, and Japan earlier this week.
The North Korean Ministry of Defense, in a statement quoted by the agency, claimed that these exercises “seriously threatened the security” of North Korea. The ministry added that, in response, Pyongyang conducted a “significant test” of its underwater nuclear weapon system (Hwasong-5-23) in the East Sea.
North Korea had launched a ballistic missile on Sunday, according to the South Korean military, just days after conducting live-fire exercises near the tense maritime borders with South Korea. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul stated in a release that “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile toward the East Sea,” also known as the Sea of Japan.
This missile launch comes in the wake of North Korea firing a barrage of artillery shells near the disputed maritime borders with South Korea, prompting Seoul to conduct similar live-fire drills in the same area.
In late December, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal and launch additional spy satellites in response to what he described as “aggressive moves” led by the United States.