N. Korea makes a splash
Launches submarine-capable ballistic missile
SEOUL — North Korea fired what may be a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) Wednesday, which would be the first test in three years of what had been a relatively young but rapidly progressing program to deliver nuclear weapons.
The launch comes hours after the North announced it would resume nuclear talks with the United States this weekend, potentially ending a months-long deadlock that followed a vow by North Korea despot Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump to make progress.
The exact type of the missile and the launch platform remain unclear, but it appears to be a step that “pushes the envelope,” said Joshua Pollack, a leading expert on nuclear and missile proliferation and editor of Nonproliferation Review.
A missile was launched from the sea soon after 7 a.m. Wednesday, about 17 km from the coastal city of Wonsan, the site of one of North Korea’s military bases used for previous missile launches.
Japan initially said two missiles were launched but later clarified it was likely one projectile that went through stage separation.
The projectile hit the waters in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Japanese government said.
South Korea’s Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said an Aegis destroyer detected one missile launch, which flew 450 km in a lofted trajectory 910 km high.
It is unclear if the missile was launched from a submarine or a platform at sea.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that, according to initial intelligence, the missile was a submarine-capable ballistic missile launched from a platform at sea.
If the missile had been launched on a standard trajectory, the range would have been up to 1,900 km, which would put it in the medium-range missile class. That missile would have all of South Korea and Japan within range.
What appears to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) takes flight in this image released by North Korea’s Central News Agency yesterday.