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North Korea Continues Launches Amid US-South Korea Drills

A general view as North Korea fired two missiles from a submarine striking an underwater target, according to state media, at an undisclosed location in North Korea March 12, 2023 in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea conducted a ballistic missile launch Tuesday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a flurry of North Korean weapons tests and condemnations over U.S.-South Korea joint military drills that began this week.

The North fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea off its east coast between 7:41 a.m. and 7:51 a.m. local time, according to an alert from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. It offered no further details, including the type and exact range of the missiles.

North Korea does not typically provide any details on its weapons tests until the following morning in state media.

The launch comes a day after North Korea said it successfully fired two "strategic cruise missiles" from a submarine — the first time it has claimed such a feat. The launch, state media said, demonstrated North Korea's ability to respond with "overwhelming powerful force" to the "U.S. imperialists and South Korean puppet forces."

Over the past year, North Korea has launched an unprecedented number of missiles, including some that have triggered shelter warnings or air raid alarms in South Korea and Japan.

The United States and South Korea have responded by increasing joint military exercises. On Monday, the two sides began 11 days of major drills, including the biggest field exercises in five years.

At a briefing Monday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price directly linked the expanded drills with the increased provocations by North Korea, whose official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Unfortunately, the DPRK has put us in a position to have to reinforce, in tangible ways, the security commitment that we have," Price said.

"They have made the security environment in Northeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region all the more dangerous, all the more threatening to our deployed troops, to Americans in the region and, of course, to our key allies in ROK," he added, using an abbreviation for the official name of South Korea.

Though the United States and South Korea say the exercises are defensive, North Korea views the drills as preparation to invade and often uses them as an occasion to conduct its own major weapons demonstrations and tests.

On Sunday, state media reported North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over a meeting to discuss "important practical steps for making more effective, powerful and offensive use of the war deterrent."

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the meeting of the Central Military Commission dealt with how to cope with the "present situation in which the war provocations of the U.S. and South Korea are reaching the red line."