North Korea suspected of test firing submarine-launched ballistic missile

If proven, this could provide Pyongyang a second-strike capability
Oct 19, 2021
A man watches a television report showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on October 19, 2021, after the South's military said a North Korean weapons test was believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile. (Photo: AFP)
A man watches a television report showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on October 19, 2021, after the South's military said a North Korean weapons test was believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile. (Photo: AFP)

North Korea is reported to have fired two ballistic missiles, one of them is thought to be a submarine-launched missile, officials of South Korea and Japan said on Tuesday.

The North Korean missile test showcases its latest advances in weapons technology with the potential to provide the country with a second-strike capability.

The test came as both Koreas are close to engaging in an arms race on the peninsula, while the Washington-Pyongyang dialogue is deadlocked.

The “short-range ballistic missile suspected to be an SLBM” was fired from Sinpo into the sea east of the Korean peninsula, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Sinpo is a major naval shipyard with satellite photographs previously showing submarines at the facility, and the statement added: “South Korean and US intelligence are closely analysing for additional detail.”

The key question will be whether it was fired from a working submarine, or an underwater platform or a barge.

A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North’s arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a second-strike capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.

Japan’s officials said that there was no advance warning for either maritime or air traffic in the region. However, there was yet no report of any damage to any ship or aircraft, they confirmed.

The news of the North Korean missile tests was confirmed by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who said that this act was condemnable.

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