About 50 North Korean submarines that had been moved to the frontline amid heightened military tension are now returning to their home bases, a military source said after the two Koreas reached a deal.
More than 50 out of North Korea's around 70 submarines had previously been detected away from their bases for operations after the country threatened an "all-out war" against South Korea and ratcheted up its combat readiness posture.
"The 50-something submarines that had been away from their bases since Aug. 21 have shown signs of returning back to their home bases," the military official said, adding that they had been moving in North Korea's inland sea.
Other military officials indicated that the return of the submarines could be related with Typhoon Goni that is approaching the Korean Peninsula or the vehicles' insufficient underwater navigation capacity.
North Korean submarines can stay underwater up to three days before needing to surface to replenish oxygen, exposing themselves to surveillance.
The military officials said they will continue their anti-submarine patrol efforts to guard against any possibility of the North Korean submarines crossing over the Northern Limit Line to the southern side.
North Korea is known to operate 77 submarines that are 1,800 tons, 325 tons and 130 tons in size. The country is also believed to have recently built a 2,000-ton submarine that can fire ballistic missiles.
North Korea's maneuver was detected hours after the two Koreas reached an agreement on ways to defuse heightened military tension on the peninsula in marathon negotiations.
North Korea expressed regret over its land mine attack on the South and promised efforts not to repeat provocations in the agreement, while the South decided to halt its propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts critical of North Korea along the border. (Yonhap)