North Korea fires submarine missiles ahead of largest US-South Korea military drills in years

A general view as North Korea fired two missiles from a submarine striking an underwater target, according to state media, on March 12.

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)North Korea launched two missiles from a submarine in waters off its east coast over the weekend, according to state media, and vowed to take "the toughest counteraction" against the largest joint military drills by the United States and South Korea in years that kick off Monday.

Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency said the "strategic cruise missiles" were launched on Sunday morning from a "8.24 Yongung" submarine in the Sea of Japan, also known in Korea as the East Sea. The same vessel was used to test North Korea's first submarine-launched ballistic missile in 2016, CNN previously reported.
The launches Sunday came some 24 hours before Washington and Seoul initiated their springtime joint military exercise on Monday, the biggest war games the two allies have put on in five years.
    The 11-day Freedom Shield exercise "will integrate elements of 'live exercises' with constructive simulations," US Forces Korea (USFK) said in an earlier statement.
      North Korea reiterated that it will take "the toughest counteraction against the most vicious plots of the US and its followers," KCNA reported Monday.
      Pyongyang has issued multiple warnings against the scheduled drill, noting that it is watching "every movement of the enemy and take corresponding and very powerful and overwhelming counteraction against its every move hostile to us," Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said last month.

      Tit for tat drills

        North Korean missile launches and fiery rhetoric tends to spike when Washington and Seoul hold joint military drills.
        South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said earlier Sunday that North Korea fired at least one unidentified missile from a submarine near the port city of Sinpo in the South Hamgyong province.
        KCNA claimed the missiles flew for over an hour, traveling roughly 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) per hour and performing figure-of-eight shaped patterns before "precisely" hitting a target.
        The Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea "expressed satisfaction" after the drill, KCNA reported.
        The US and South Korean intelligence authorities are analyzing the incident, JCS said.
        The launch took place three days after North Korea on Thursday