South Korean military officials say North Korea fired three anti-ship cruise missiles into its eastern sea on Saturday, hours after Pyongyang announced what is believed to be the country’s first ever test-fire of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
A South Korean military official said the missiles were fired from an area near its eastern port city of Wonsan, identifying the missiles as KN-01s, which were tested last February.
South Korea is still technically at war with the North as they never signed a peace treaty at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
News of the missile test came one day after North Korea warned that it will open fire on any South Korean naval ships entering disputed waters.
The North Korean state news agency said the leader Kim Jong Un inspected the test-launch personally and "through the test, it was verified and confirmed that the underwater ballistic missile launch from a strategic submarine fully achieved the latest military, scientific and technical requirements."
After the report, the United States has called on North Korea "to refrain from taking actions that inflame tensions in the region," adding that North Korea using ballistic missile technology violates multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
A South Korean expert who saw the photos of the launch told Reuters that "they appeared to show a ballistic missile being fired from a submarine in a cold launch through an ejection mechanism, a key part of a submarine launch system."