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N Korea fires several cruise missiles amid soaring tensions with South, US

File photo taken during the launch of a missile by North Korea

North Korea has fired several cruise missiles into the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula amid soaring tensions with the South and the United States.

A number of cruise missiles were launched since around 04:00 a.m. local time on Saturday (19:00 GMT on Friday), South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to the South's official Yonhap news agency.

"South Korean and US intelligence authorities were analyzing the launches while monitoring signs of additional activities," the JCS added.

The launches came as relations between the two Koreas as well as between the North and the US are at one of their lowest points ever.

No earlier than on Wednesday, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

The launches were the latest in a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang in response to persisting provocations by joint US-South Korea war games in the region as well as an agreement by the two allies to deploy nuclear assets to the South.

Earlier, the US had deployed a nuclear-armed submarine at a South Korean port, the first in decades.

Ahead of the submarine's arrival, a North Korean defense ministry spokesperson had warned that the deployment of nuclear assets to the Korean Peninsula "may incite the worst crisis of nuclear conflict in practice."

On Thursday, North Korea's defense minister Kang Sun Nam said the Ohio-class submarine's deployment may have fallen "under the conditions of the use of nuclear weapons specified in the DPRK law on the nuclear force policy," using an acronym for North Korea's official name of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

And on Friday, South Korea's defense ministry said any use of nuclear weapons by the North would prompt an "immediate and decisive response" resulting in the "end" of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rule.

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