Pyongyang alarms rivals
North Korea yesterday fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile from a submarine off its northeast coast, South Korean defence officials said.
The move is Pyongyang’s latest effort to expand its military might in the face of pressure by its neighbours and Washington.
The Saturday evening launch of what the officials said was presumably a submarinelaunched ballistic missile took place near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo.
A successful test from a submari n e would be a worrying development because mastering the ability to fire missiles from submerged vessels would make it harder for outsiders to detect what North Korea is doing.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the projectile fired by the North on Saturday travelled about 30 kilometers. It said a typical submarine-launched ballistic missile can travel at least 300km.
The North last test-launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile on December 25, but that was seen as failure, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further destabilise the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
North Korea has recently sent a barrage of missiles and artillery shells into the sea amid ongoing annual military drills between the United States and South Korea. Pyongyang says the drills are a preparation for an invasion of the North. The firings also come as the North expresses anger about toughened international sanctions over its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
North Korea’s belligerence may also be linked to a major ruling party congress next month meant to further cement leader Kim Jong-Un’s grip on power.
DESPOT: Kim Jong-Un