North Korea tests possible submarine missile, amid tensions with US
Oct 20, 09:34 PM
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea in what South Korea’s military described as a weapon likely designed for submarine-based launches, marking possibly the most significant demonstration of the North’s military might since President Joe Biden took office.
The launch came hours after the U.S. reaffirmed its offer to resume diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It underscored how the North continues to expand its military capabilities amid a pause in diplomacy.
Officials from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said they are “aware of the North Korean ballistic missile launch this morning into the Sea of Japan and are consulting closely with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, as well as other regional allies and partners,” according to an INDOPACOM statement. “The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from any further destabilizing acts. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, territory, or that of our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation. The U.S. commitment to the defence of the ROK and Japan, remains ironclad.”
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement it detected the North firing one short-range missile it believed was a submarine-launched ballistic missile from waters near the eastern port of Sinpo, and that the South Korean and U.S. militaries were closely analysing the launch.
The South Korean military said the launch was made at sea, but it didn’t elaborate whether it was fired from a vessel submerged underwater or another launch platform above the sea’s surface.
Japan’s military said its initial analysis suggested the North fired two ballistic missiles and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said officials were examining whether they were SLBMs.
After the launch, Kishida interrupted a campaign trip ahead of Japanese legislative elections later this month, returning to Tokyo. The leader ordered his government to start revising the country’s national security strategy to adapt to North Korea’s growing threats.
“We cannot overlook North Korea’s recent development in missile technology and its impact on the security of Japan and in the region,” he said.
South Korean officials held a national security council meeting and expressed “deep regret” over the launch that came despite efforts to revive diplomacy. A strong South Korean response could anger North Korea, which has accused Seoul of hypocrisy for criticizing the North’s weapons tests while expanding its own conventional military capabilities.