N. Korea Fires Submarine-Launched Missile

N. Korea Fires Submarine-Launched Missile
N. Korea Fires Submarine-Launched Missile

A North Korean ballistic missile fired from a submarine on Wednesday flew about 500 kilometers in the longest flight by that type of weapon, Seoul officials said, a range that can place much of South Korea within its striking distance.

Seoul officials condemned the launch as an “armed protest” against the start of annual South Korean-US military drills, 12-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, that North Korean calls an invasion rehearsal.

The launch was also the latest in a series of missile, rocket and other weapon tests by North Korea, which is openly pushing to acquire a reliable weapon capable of striking targets as far away as the continental US, AP reported.

The missile fired from a submarine off the eastern North Korean coastal town of Sinpo reached into Japan’s air defense identification zone, according to Seoul and Tokyo officials. The US Strategic Command said it tracked the North Korean submarine launch of the presumed KN-11 missile into the Sea of Japan.

“This is an impermissible and outrageous act that represents a grave threat to the security of Japan and seriously undermines the peace and stability of the region,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch showed an “improvement” in ability over previous similar missile tests.

The 500-kilometer distance is longer than ones recorded by other submarine-launched missiles launched by North Korea, and puts most of South Korea within its range if it is fired near the border.

North Korea already has a variety of land-based missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan.

The North’s acquisition of the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development because missiles fired from submerged vessels are harder to detect in advance.

The US Strategic Command statement said the North Korean launch did not pose a threat to North America but that the US military “remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations”.

North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs are a source of regional security concerns. Many outside experts say the North does not yet have a reliable long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental US, but they acknowledge the North has been making steady progress on its weapons programs and could one day acquire such a weapon.

About 28,500 US troops are based in South Korea to help deter potential aggression from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

North Korea usually responds to the regular South Korea-US military drills with weapons tests and fiery warlike rhetoric.


A passenger walks past a TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missile fired from North Korea’s east coast port of Sinpo, at a train station in Seoul, South Korea,on  Aug. 24.