It’s the second time Pyongyang has responded in this way to the presence of US naval vessels in nearby waters (Picture: Reuters/AP)
North Korea has fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea in an apparent protest against the presence of US naval vessels in the area.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not disclose details of where the missile was launched from nor how long it was airborne.
They claimed the launch had followed just hours after the USS Annapolis, a nuclear-propelled US submarine, arrived at port on Jeju Island, South Korea’s largest island.
The US has steadily increased its presence in the waters east of the Korean peninsula, part of its own show of force amid signs of Pyongyang’s growing willingness to conduct nuclear attacks.
Just last week, a nuclear-armed submarine, the USS Kentucky, became the first such vessel to come to South Korea in more than forty years.
North Korea responded in much the same way, again test-firing ballistic and cruise missiles in an apparent attempt to demonstrate its capacity to strike both the US vessels and South Korean territory.
The tests were accompanied by strong words from despotic leader Kim Jong-un, who warned such increased presence would likely meet the hermit kingdom’s criteria for a nuclear attack.
A Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile was also launched from an undisclosed location in North Korea on July 13 (Picture: Reuters)
Kim Jong-un has said that increased US naval presence in the area could well meet North Korea’s criteria for a nuclear attack (Picture: AP)
Both Korean nations have continued to ramp up military drills in recent months.
Experts have warned that further proof-testing of new missile designs within North Korean territory also risks contaminating the country’s water supply.
Dr Olli Heinonen, formerly director general of nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency, previously said: ‘Water from melting snow and rain can enter in through cracks and wash out fission products and plutonium.
‘It can transport it with the groundwater, into a small river passing the [test] site, and on to agricultural sites and towns downstream.’
He added: ‘Such contamination could enter into food chains and accumulate in agriculture products, fish, meat and eventually in people.’
In the 1990s, a devastating famine is estimated to have killed as many as three million people in North Korea.
The US nuclear-powered submarine USS Annapolis arrived at a naval base in Jeju Island, South Korea, on Monday (Picture: EPA)
According to testimony from people living under the Kim regime, the situation is now almost as dire as it was then, following the government’s decision to seal its borders in 2020, cutting off vital supplies.
Nuclear contamination would further exacerbate food shortages in a country where, due to the government’s strict informational policing, an unknown portion of some 26 million people are likely facing starvation.
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