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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
North Korea announced it has successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine in an article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Saturday.
The article says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both personally ordered and watched the firing of the missile, with the Rodong Sinmun publishing pictures of the event. The text on the side of the missile translates as Polaris-1.
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense could not be reached for comment on the news.
“There took place an underwater test-fire of Korean-style powerful strategic submarine ballistic missile,” the KCNA article Reads.
“The ballistic missile soared into the sky from underwater. The test-fire proved and confirmed that the ballistic missile fired from the submarine fully met the requirements of the latest military science and technology.”
The article did not say where or when the missile test occurred but previous activity could indicate it took place off the peninsula’s east coast.
“The launch likely took place off the east coast, near Sinpo in South Hamgyong Province. Previous Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) related developments have been observed at Sinpo, including an SLBM test stand and a previously unknown class of submarine,” NK News director of intelligence John Grisafi said.
“Additionally, Kim’s other appearance reported in state media on the same day was in Sinpo.”
North Korea are prohibited from developing and launching ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions. The missile pictured appears to be similar to an earlier North Korean design.
“The missile’s shape is very similar to that of the BM-25 Musudan, a North Korean missile based on the Soviet-designed R-27 SLBM. The BM-25’s design means North Korea already at least knew the design of the R-27 and possibly possessed one, making it easier for them to build an SLBM of their own,” Grisafi said.
North Korea’s possession of the ability to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine is also significant, Grisafi said, as it both extends the range of their missiles and makes it difficult to track their locations and predict launches.
“The timing of the test comes as a surprise. Although the U.S. government previously revealed that North Korea had already conducted an SLBM test from a floating platform, an actual submarine launch was believed to be a few years away,” Grisafi said.
The article says that Kim went on to praise the scientists, technicians and workers responsible for developing the missile technology, while KCNA described the test-fire as a “wonderful gift” to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK).
It also described the missile as a “world-level strategic weapon,” which would wipe out “hostile forces infringing upon the sovereignty and dignity of Songun Korea and conduct any underwater operation.”
Featured Image: KCNA