December 16, 2016 12:38
North Korea early this month conducted a land test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, Washington has confirmed according to Japanese media on Thursday. The test was reportedly aimed at perfecting cold-launch technology.
Cold launch is an advanced method of igniting the missile after it has been expelled from the water. The North probably conducted the test on land to improve the success rate.
In August, the North succeeded in extending the range of sub-launched missiles to an estimated 500 km.
Washington is stepping up surveillance because it fears that the North is close to deploying the missiles warfare-ready, NHK reported.
Launches would be enormously difficult to detect and could happen close to South Korean waters, giving Seoul and Washington very little time to intercept the missiles.
Meanwhile, a North Korean submarine was destroyed in North Korean waters in April and 12 crewmembers on board killed, the Tokyo Shimbun reported. The cause is unknown.
But the North conducted an SLMB launch test shortly afterwards, suggesting that the sub broke up in the attempt to launch a missile. The daily quoted a North Korean official as saying, "People's lives are worthless in the eyes of Kim Jong-un. Nuclear weapons are much more important to him."
The South Korean military declined to confirm the report.
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