North Korea Claims Test of Submarine-Launched Cruise Missiles

    North Korea Claims Test of Submarine-Launched Cruise Missiles
    Last updated Mar 13, 2023
    Image credit: KCNA [via The Korea Times]


    • North Korea on Sunday reportedly test-fired two submarine-launched cruise missiles off its eastern coast amid what Pyongyang claims are "frantic war preparation moves" by the US and South Korea.
    • According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the exercise was intended to confirm the weapon system's effectiveness as part of Pyongyang's "nuclear deterrent." Unlike ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, which are difficult to intercept, are not subject to UN sanctions against Pyongyang.
    • Meanwhile, the South Korean military confirmed the underwater launching drill but said Pyongyang's description of the launch differed from its own findings and that people should "not believe everything" North Korea claims, without revealing further details.
    • Despite boasting dozens of submarines, North Korea is said to have only one experimental submarine to test submarine-launched ballistic missiles. If confirmed, the latest exercise would reportedly be North Korea's first-ever submarine-launched cruise missile test.
    • Pyongyang's latest missile launch came a day before South Korea and the US began their largest joint military exercises in five years. Called "Freedom Shield 23," the drills are set to last at least ten days and are designed to reportedly focus on the "changing security environment" caused by North Korea's enhanced military buildup.
    • While the South Korean military stresses the "defensive" nature of the joint exercises, Pyongyang characterizes all such drills with the US as rehearsals for an invasion, and last week North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un commanded his military to step up exercises to get ready for a "real war."


    Establishment-critical narrative

    Although the US and its allies blame Pyongyang for rising tensions, there is no doubt that Washington bears primary responsibility for having led diplomatic relations to a dead end, especially since the Biden administration switched back to a confrontational course following Donald Trump's efforts to de-escalate through negotiations. By fueling the conflict to forge closer ties with Japan and South Korea to increase its military footprint in the Indo-Pacific region, the US risks an incalculable escalation.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    It's time to acknowledge that the strategy of persuading Pyongyang to make concessions through a policy mix of negotiation and deterrence has failed. Instead, Washington should resort to a strategy that has already proven successful and aim to collapse the regime from within via a media campaign to educate North Koreans about the country's desolate human rights situation. A rising population is the best way to achieve complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 14% chance that North Korea and South Korea will be recognized as a single sovereign state by 2045, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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