North Korea says it tested new solid-fuel long-range missile
A US nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine has arrived in South Korea in a warning shot to Kim Jong-un – on the same day an American soldier was arrested for crossing the border between the countries.
The arrival of the sub comes as the allies launch crucial talks to coordinate their responses in the event of a nuclear war with North Korea.
White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell told reporters at a briefing in Seoul: “As we speak, an American nuclear submarine is making port in Busan today. That’s the first visit of (an) American nuclear submarine in decades.”
Campbell is currently in the South Korean capital, where he was attending the first Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) discussion with officials from the country.
The arrival of the US submarine has been confirmed by South Korea’s defense ministry, which identified it as the USS Kentucky, an Ohio class SSBN.
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The Ohio-class subs carry 20 Trident II D5 missiles. Each of these can deliver up to eight nuclear warheads to targets up to 7,500 miles away.
The Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) was formed in April as part of agreements between Joe Biden and South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol following a meeting between the two leaders.
Last Wednesday, North Korea launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in three months – two days after warning the US that its spy planes would be targeted.
A long-range missile fired from the country’s capital region flew some 620 miles at a maximum altitude of 3,730 miles before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese assessments.
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They said the missile was launched at a high angle, in an apparent attempt to avoid neighboring countries.
Experts believe North Korea likely tested its developmental, road-mobile Hwasong-18 ICBM, a type of solid-fuel weapon that is harder to detect and intercept than the North’s other liquid-fuel ICBMs.
Kim Jong-Un has previously called the missile his most powerful nuclear weapon.
The arrival of the USS Kentucky in South Korea comes on the same day a US soldier was arrested for allegedly crossing the inter-Korean border during a tour without approval.
The unidentified soldier is Travis King, a US Army soldier in the rank of private second class, according to the Dong-a Ilbo daily newspaper in South Korea, citing its own country’s army.
Multiple reports have now claimed King crossed the heavily-fortified border without permission at 3.27pm local time.
The United Nations Command has said the US citizen was on a tour of the Korean border village of Panmunjom and crossed the border into North Korea without the permitted clearance.
It said he is now in North Korean custody, with the UN Command working with counterparts in the country to resolve the issue.
No further details on who the person is or why he crossed the border were revealed in the statement.
The United Nations Command said in a statement on Twitter: “A US National on a JSA orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Referring to North Korea’s People’s Army, the statement added: “We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident.”
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