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North Korea tests submarine ballistic missile
Under the watchful eyes of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea says it conducted an underwater test-firing of a submarine ballistic missile, the Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday.
The test “proved and confirmed that the ballistic missile fire from the submarine fully met the requirements of the latest military science and technology,” KCNA said.
The North’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of a projectile rising from the surface and Kim smiling from a distance at what looked like a floating submarine.
Kim called the missile a “world-level strategic weapon” and an “eye-opening success,” according to KCNA.
The North Korean leader declared that his military now has a weapon capable of “striking and wiping out in any waters the hostile forces infringing upon the sovereignty and dignity of (North Korea).”
The news agency report said the missiles “soared into the sky from underwater.”
The test apparently took place Friday near Sinpo South Shipyard on the east coast, the Korea Times reports, noting that the North Korean leader was also reported that day to be visiting a fishery complex at the same shipyard.
Experts in Seoul say the North’s military demonstrations and hostile rhetoric are attempts at wresting concessions from the United States and South Korea, whose officials have recently talked about the possibility of holding preliminary talks with the North to test its commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula..
In recent years, have pressed to resume talks to denuclearlize the Korean Peninsula.
The last public U.S. attempt to six-party process — involving China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, North Korea and the U.S. restarted — collapsed in 2012 after the North launched a long-range rocket, the Korea Herald notes. Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test in February 2013, and has test-fired numerous shorter-range missile since then.
In January, the U.S. again proposed a meeting with North Korea, but the bid failed to get traction.
This week, South Korean envoy Hwang Joon Kook said, after meeting with his U.S. and Chinese counterparts, that all five parties are ready once again to test North Korea’s intentions on talks, the newspaper reports.
North Korean also said for the second straight day that it would fire without warning at South Korean naval vessels that it claims have been violating its territorial waters off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House held an emergency national security council meeting to review the threat and discuss possible countermeasures.
“By raising tensions, North Korea is trying to ensure that it will be able to drive whatever future talks with the U.S. and South Korea,” said Yang Moo Jin, a professor from the Seoul-based University of North Korean Studies.
Intelligence sources from Seoul and Washington, quoted by South Korea’s Yonghap news agency, claimed that Pyongyang has been developing a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), that could represent a new threat to South Korea.
The unidentified sources tell the news agency that the North has succeeded in installing a missile launcher onto the submarine after conducting a series of experiments on shore as well as underwater.
Ministry officials have previously said that North Korea has about 70 submarines and appears to be mainly imitating Russian designs in its efforts to develop a system for submarine-launched missiles. North Korea is believed to have obtained several of the Soviet Navy’s retired Golf-class ballistic missile submarines in the mid-1990s.
The move is seen as part of efforts by North Korea to equip its missiles with miniaturized nuclear bombs.
If so, that would mean the Pyongyang has developed a naval strike capability that is at least a decade ahead of the South, the Yonghap news agency says, quoting unidentified “North Korea watchers.”
The website 38 North, operated by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said in January that such capability posed a potential new threat to South Korea, Japan and U.S. bases in East Asia, although North Korea’s submarines tend to be old and would be vulnerable to attack.
The South Korean navy has just laid out a plan to build six 3,000-ton submarines equipped with vertical missile launchers between 2027 and 2030, the South Korean agency says.