A photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency on Jan. 15, 2021, shows submarine-launched ballistic missiles displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
Sept. 24 (UPI) -- South Korean military and political officials said Saturday they are on alert for the possible firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile by North Korea.
The South Korean military confirmed it has detected signs that Pyongyang is readying a possible SLBM launch off its eastern coast, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"We are closely monitoring North Korea's SLBM-related facilities and activities, and maintaining a thorough readiness posture," a military official told the agency.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is watching the situation after being briefed Friday while returning home from visits to Britain, the United States and Canada, officials said.
They added he has instructed the military to "respond immediately" to any "provocation."
Evidence gathered by independent and government sources indicated activity consistent with a possible upcoming SLBM launch at the Sinpo submarine base in North Korea, analysts said.
The warnings came just a day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit the region and meet with leaders of Japan and South Korea. Her five-day trip includes attendance at the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo Abe.
In meeting with the region's leaders, the White House said Harris is highlighting "the strength of the United States' alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea, our enduring commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and our shared economic and security interests in the region and around the world."
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan on Friday to conduct joint drills with the country's naval forces in a demonstration of military might and extended deterrence against a growing nuclear threat from North Korea.