U.S. says it will protect South Korea and Japan from North Korea

The statement was released following latest North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests

Following North Korea’s announcement of its latest underwater nuclear weapons tests, the US authorities reaffirmed their security pledge to South Korea and Japan on Friday, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The agency quoted Pentagon sources as saying that the US has been “very clear” about the danger of North Korea’s military programs and its commitment to protect the Republic of Korea, Japan and the regional peace and stability. The sources also said that the US will “continue to work with the governments of South Korea and Japan to address the threats posed by North Korea”, but did not provide any details about the tests, saying that the Department of Defense does not comment on intelligence matters.

The Pentagon’s remarks came after the North Korean news agency KCNA reported that the North Korean National Defense Academy’s Institute of Underwater Weapons Systems conducted a major test of the under-development ‘Haeil-5-23’ underwater nuclear weapons system in the Sea of Japan. The statement cited the North Korean Ministry of Defense as saying that the test was a response to the joint naval exercises by the US, South Korea and Japan.

The US also urged North Korea on Friday to stop its new “provocative” and “destabilizing” actions and to choose the path of dialogue. A State Department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency that the US calls on North Korea to “refrain from further provocative and destabilizing actions and to return to diplomacy”. The spokesperson added that the US encourages North Korea to “engage in substantive discussions on identifying ways to manage military risks and create lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula”.

The North Korean regime claimed that it tested a “submarine nuclear weapons system” on Friday in retaliation to the joint naval drills by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, which involved a US nuclear aircraft carrier. The dictatorship of Kim Jong-un said that the exercises of the three powers “seriously threatened the security” of the North, and that Pyongyang “carried out a major test of its ‘Haeil-5-23’ submarine nuclear weapons system”, according to a statement from the North Korean Ministry of Defense released by the KCNA propaganda agency.

Last year, the isolated communist country had reported several tests of a presumed nuclear attack submarine drone (a different version of the Haeil) that could cause “a radioactive tsunami”. Analysts then doubted whether Pyongyang had such weapons.

This week, South Korea, the US and Japan conducted naval exercises off the coast of Jeju Island that the allied countries said were in reaction to North Korea’s launch of a hypersonic missile on Sunday. The drills involved nine ships from the three countries, including the US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

A spokesperson for the North Korean Ministry of Defense said that these exercises “were a cause of further destabilization of the regional situation and an act that seriously threatened security”, according to KCNA. The spokesperson did not disclose the exact date of the weapons test, but said that it ensured that its “nuclear-weapon-based submarine counterattack posture is being further refined.”

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