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As North Korea announces plans to increase its nuclear weapons cache and tensions rise in the area, the U.S. and South Korea are reportedly planning to increase anti-submarine exercises in 2023. According to the Korea Times last week, the biannual “silent shark” drills will be “bigger than those of the past, given the North heightening tensions with its dozens of missile tests in recent months.”
Seol has stated that the increased exercises are needed due to the rising threat from North Korea, saying that the exercises with the U.S. are “designed to improve their capability to respond to increasing North Korean submarine threats, including its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
In October, concerns grew when North Korea responded to U.S.–South Korean military exercises by launching a KN-23 SLBM from an underwater reservoir which prompted concerns that the North had created a new launch platform for the missile.
Military exercises in the region have hit a recent high in 2022 as North Korea has conducted numerous nuclear tests and launched 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) just this month. With South Korea increasing its military exercises and the U.S. sending strategic assets to the area, tensions are mounting.
Pyongyang has denounced the U.S. military’s flyover earlier this month with nuclear-capable B-1B stealth bombers as a provocative act rather than as a maneuver that was part of a larger military exercise.
While Washington and Seoul plan next year’s anti-submarine exercises, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un has boasted that North Korea will create “the world’s most powerful strategic force, the absolute force unprecedented in the century,” in reference to Pyongyang’s reported development of technology that can mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles.