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North Korea launches ballistic missiles in response to US submarine arrival in South Korea

North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Wednesday, just hours after a US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine arrived in South Korea. The missiles flew over Japan’s exclusive economic zone, but did not enter Japanese airspace.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the launches as “grave provocative acts” that violate UN Security Council resolutions. Japan also lodged a protest with North Korea through diplomatic channels.

North Korea missiles
The USS Michigan, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarine, arrives at a South Korean naval port in the southeastern port city of Busan on June 16, 2023. A US Navy nuclear-powered submarine arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan on June 16, demonstrating Washington’s pledge to counter Pyongyang’s growing threats, Seoul’s military said.

The launches come amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. On Tuesday, a US soldier facing disciplinary action fled across the inter-Korean border into North Korea. The soldier is believed to be in North Korean custody.

Some analysts believe that the missile launches were a response to the arrival of the US submarine and the meeting on Washington’s extended deterrence to South Korea. Others believe that the launches were unrelated to the recent incidents, but are part of a broader pattern of North Korean provocation.

Regardless of the reason for the launches, they are a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and a threat to regional peace and stability. The international community should condemn these actions and work to de-escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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