A new submarine-launched ballistic missile is seen during a test in this undated photo released on October 19, 2021 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea announced that it launched two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine in protest against the US and South Korea’s military drills.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the country’s strategic cruise missiles were launched from the Yongung 8.24 submarine in the waters off the eastern city of Sinpo on the morning of March 12.

KCNA said the cruise missiles hit the target at sea after traveling 1,500 km for about 7,563 – 7,575 seconds. The North Korean media added that the rocket launch demonstrated the current operational level of nuclear war deterrence methods in different spaces.

South Korea’s military previously announced it had detected an unidentified missile launched from a submarine in waters off the North Korean city of Sinpo but did not provide further details.

“While increasing surveillance and vigilance, our military is maintaining a readiness posture for close cooperation with the United States,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

North Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in 2021. Photo: KCNA.

North Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in 2021. Photo: KCNA .

North Korea’s missile launch comes as the United States and South Korea prepare to begin their biggest joint military drill in five years today. Pyongyang has warned such drills could be seen as a “declaration of war.”

North Korea also announced on March 12 that it had adopted “war deterrence” measures “to deal with the current situation when the war provocations of the United States and South Korea are reaching a red line.”

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have recently continued to escalate as South Korea participates in large-scale military drills with the United States and Japan, while North Korea also holds many new missile and weapon tests to reply.