South Korea fires first submarine-launched ballistic missile – Manila bulletin

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Seoul, South Korea – South Korea successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday, becoming the seventh country in the world with advanced technology and raising the prospect of a regional arms race.

The test, overseen by President Moon Jae-in, came hours after nuclear-armed North Korea fired two ballistic missiles at sea, according to the South Korean military, and while the Chinese Foreign Minister was on his way to Seoul.

This document photo taken on August 13, 2021 and provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry on September 7, 2021 shows the locally developed 3,000-ton diesel-powered submarine, named after revered independence activist Ahn Chang- ho, during its commissioning. ceremony on the southern island of Geoje. (Document / South Korean Defense Ministry / AFP)

This is a strategic breakthrough for the South, which strengthens its military capabilities as it seeks to counter the threat posed by the North, which is subject to international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and missile programs. ballistic.

“It is extraordinary timing that you have not one but two Koreas testing ballistic missiles on the same day,” Yonsei University professor John Delury told AFP.

“This is testament to the fact that there is an arms race in this region that everyone needs to pay attention to.”

The southern missile was fired underwater from its newly commissioned Ahn Chang-ho submarine, and traveled the intended distance before reaching its target, the presidential Blue House said.

Owning a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was a “very significant” step forward in its deterrence, the Blue House said, adding that it would play “a major role in self-sufficient national defense and the establishment of peace. in the Korean peninsula being cheeky “.

All other countries with proven SLBM capabilities have their own nuclear weapons.

Earlier today, the North fired “two short-range ballistic missiles” from southern Pyongan province into the sea off its east coast, Seoul Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. .

They traveled about 800 kilometers (500 miles) at a maximum altitude of about 60 kilometers.

It was Pyongyang’s second shot in less than a week after its official Korean Central News Agency said it tested a new “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend, calling it ” strategic weapon of great importance “.

Wednesday’s launches – both in the early afternoon – came shortly after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart and Moon.

Speaking ahead of the announcement of the two Koreas’ launches, Wang said he hoped all countries would contribute to “peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” the Yonhap News Agency reported.

“For example, not only the North, but also other countries are engaged in military activities,” he added.

China signal

Analysts said the timing of Pyongyang’s launch was an unequivocal signal for Beijing, the North’s main diplomatic ally and its main trade and aid partner, although at times their relations were deeply strained.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not visited China for more than six years after inheriting power from his father Kim Jong Il, and tensions have mounted in allied relations.

But he and Chinese President Xi Jinping have since met on several occasions, and Beijing sees the North as an integral part of its sphere of influence.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the Seoul University of North Korean Studies, said Wednesday’s launch “sounds like an indirect message from North Korea and even a request to Beijing for the Korean Peninsula to be dealt with. as a central issue on China’s agenda “.

The United States and South Korea are allies of the treaty, with around 28,500 American troops stationed in the South to defend it against its neighbor, who invaded in 1950.

The impoverished North says it needs its nuclear arsenal to deter a U.S. invasion, and its weapons programs have progressed rapidly under Kim, even without a nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017.

But it is more isolated than ever after closing its borders early last year to protect against the coronavirus pandemic.

Talks with the United States have stalled since a failed 2019 summit between Kim and then-President Donald Trump on sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

The American, Japanese and South Korean envoys to the North met in Tokyo earlier this week when Washington representative Sung Kim reiterated: “We hope the DPRK responds positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions. .

Pyongyang has long sought to develop SLBM technology on its own and showcased four of these devices at a military parade supervised by Kim in January, with KCNA calling them “the world’s most powerful weapon.”

But while North Korea has released photos of submarine launches, most recently in 2019, analysts believe it came from a fixed platform or submersible barge, rather than a submarine. .


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