North Korea launches nuclear threat on US submarine in South Korea

North Korea on Thursday threatened possible nuclear retaliation against the docking by the US military of one of its nuclear submarines in South Korea a few days earlier.

“The military security situation in the Korean Peninsula region, which has undergone a fundamental change due to the reckless military moves of the United States and its supporters, more clearly indicates what mission the nuclear weapons of the [North Korea] should perform,” Kang Sun Nam, North Korea’s defense minister, said in a statement.

“I remind the U.S. military that the ever-increasing visibility of the deployment of the strategic nuclear submarine and other strategic assets may fall within the conditions of use of nuclear weapons specified in the [North Korean] Nuclear Force Policy Act,” he added. “The US military side should realize that its nuclear assets have entered extremely dangerous waters.”

The USS Kentucky arrived Tuesday afternoon at the port of Busan in the first visit by a US nuclear submarine to South Korea since the 1980s.

The moment is part of commitments made in April between Washington and Seoul, President Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol establishing the Nuclear Advisory Group. The group is supposed to hold off any possible attack from North Korea.

But the docking drew the ire of Pyongyang, as the isolated country launched two short-range missiles into its eastern sea on Wednesday.

North Korea has also accused Washington of meeting with South Korea to discuss plans to use nuclear weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the North Korean government.

Asked about the statement later Thursday, Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh called the rhetoric unnecessary and “incredibly dangerous.”

“I certainly don’t think such rhetoric is helpful,” she told reporters, adding that the port visit is “consistent in terms of strategic deterrence and reflects our ironclad commitment to the region.”

“We’re not here to incite or to… sting the bear. This is a further deepening of our cooperation with South Korea” and something that was announced earlier this year, she added.

The new tensions with Pyongyang come as Washington tries to negotiate the release of a US soldier who “voluntarily” crossed the North Korean border from South Korea.

The soldier, Pvt. 2nd Class Travis King, had been released from a South Korean prison and was facing further disciplinary action in the United States when he rushed across the border and has not been seen or heard from since. Biden administration officials say they don’t know King’s whereabouts in the country because North Korea has not responded to any outreach from the United States.

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