North Korea likely fired its first submarine missile since 2019

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(Bloomberg) – North Korea appears to have fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile for the first time in two years, adding to a series of tests demonstrating Kim Jong Un’s pursuit of nuclear-capable weapons that can escape American interceptors.

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The regime is believed to have launched an SLBM on Tuesday from the eastern port of Sinpo in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, the South Korean military said. While Seoul officials did not say whether the missile was fired from a ship or an underwater platform, the Yonhap News Agency quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying it could have been launched. from a submarine.

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While North Korea launched an SLBM from a submerged platform in October 2019, it has not launched one from a real boat since 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the launch, noting that the ballistic missile tests violated United Nations resolutions against North Korea’s weapons program. South Korea’s National Security Council has expressed “living regret” for the action while the US Indo-Pacific Command urged North Korea to “refrain from any other destabilizing act”.

The launch came as intelligence chiefs from the three allies met in Seoul to discuss how to move forward stalled nuclear talks with North Korea, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in advocating a more great commitment. On Thursday, South Korea is preparing to launch its new in three steps The Nuri rocket, designed to put a satellite into orbit.

Kim has showcased a growing range of nuclear-capable weapons in recent days, including a series of submarine-based missiles and numerous other rockets shown at a defense exhibition last week in Pyongyang. Such advances show US President Joe Biden the extent of Kim’s gains since his pledge to “work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” during his historic summit with former President Donald Trump in 2018.

North Korea did not issue any immediate statement at Tuesday’s launch, and the few details provided by Japan and South Korea left weapons experts wondering if Kim threw a new weapon, fired a proven weapon, or performed a difficult test. The missile reached an altitude of about 60 kilometers (37 miles) and traveled about 590 kilometers, said Yonhap, a flight path well below the height of 900 kilometers reached in North Korea’s last SLBM test in October 2019.

“The trajectory indicates a short-range missile,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia non-proliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. The missile could be a small solid-propellant North Korea SLBM unveiled at a defense exhibit last week, he added.

Video: North Korea fires missile, defends UN policy (Reuters)

North Korea fires missile, defends UN policy

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North Korean state media would be closely watched on Wednesday to see if the regime followed past practices and released statements or photos of the launch. Kim has deployed in recent weeks what North Korea has called a “hypersonic missile,” a nuclear-capable cruise missile and a new system for launching rockets from a railcar.

The North Korean leader has focused particularly on developing SLBM, which would force the United States and its allies to consider the possibility of a missile attack from different directions. Tuesday’s launch site was near a base where North Korea is building submarines and keeping a submerged platform used for previous rocket tests.

The Pukguksong-3 launched by North Korea in October 2019 has a estimated range of at least 1,900 kilometers. Since then, North Korea has deployed two new versions of the weapon – the Pukguksong-4 and Pukguksong-5 – in military parades. In addition to the Gorae, North Korea has built a second submarine capable of launching missiles at Sinpo.



a close-up of text on a black background: Out to Sea


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At the sea

North Korea may have gone five years without launching a missile from an actual submarine, as the pressurized nation doesn’t have a ship large enough to accommodate its new, bigger missiles. The US Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report earlier this month that Kim’s submarine program was “likely to grow slowly” due to the lengthy and resource-intensive manufacturing process of building larger ships. advances.

Joseph dempsey, an associate researcher for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the trajectory of Tuesday’s launch suggested the state could make a pragmatic compromise to deploy missiles more quickly.

“Its smaller size could allow more missile tubes to be mounted on a single submarine, but could also be easier to fit into some existing designs,” Dempsey said. “If North Korea has indeed tested this smaller missile, it will be interesting to describe it as a ‘strategic’ system, generally used to describe its nuclear capable system.”

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