N. Korea ‘loses submarine’ amid largest US-South Korean drill – reports

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. © Reuters
Pyongyang has presumably lost a military submarine, US intelligence sources say. The incident comes as a joint South Korea-US military exercise is underway in the region.

The Pentagon has been watching the North Korean search for the vessel ever since it went missing, through satellites, aircraft and vessels, three US military officials said, as cited by CNN.

The sources could not determine whether the submarine has sunk or was adrift, however they believe it had “suffered some type of failure during an exercise.

About a week ago it went missing and the speculation is that it sank,” an unnamed US official told USNI News. “The North Koreans have not made an attempt to indicate there is something wrong or that they require help or some type of assistance,” he added.

The South Korean Defence Ministry is currently investigating the matter, AFP reports, citing ministry officials. The Pentagon declined to comment on the matter, the agency says.

Tensions in the region are growing as the US and South Korea hold joint military drills involving over 15,000 Korean and 300,000 American troops. The exercise reportedly includes mastering ways to repel a possible North Korean nuclear threat. North Korea has already threatened to conduct a “pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice” unless the two countries stop the exercise.

Moreover, Pyongyang launched two short-range missiles on Thursday into the Sea of Japan in order to disrupt the drill.

READ MORE: North Korea fires two missiles into Sea of Japan, cuts cooperation with South

We’re already seeing North Korea starting to issue threats: If the US doesn’t stop these exercises or doesn’t cancel these exercises, North Korea may take appropriate action,” said Bruce Klingner, a Korea expert at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation think tank, as quoted by the Marine Times.