PYONGYANG – North Korea has test fired a ballistic missile by a submarine from its east coast on 24th of August, according to officials of South Korea and the US.
The missile was launched on the waters just off the coast of the port of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, a port city located in the northeastern part of North Korea. The missile was tracked by the US Pacific Command and it flew about 500km east towards Japan until it fell into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
The launch of the KN-11 missile is one of the many test missile launches by North Korea since the launch of the Nodong-1 missile in 1993. However, this was the first time that the missile entered Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone.
Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan spoke of the the launch by saying that “This is a threat to Japan’s security and an unforgivable reckless act that significantly damages the peace and stability of the region.”
South Korea also responded to the incident as the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned North Korea of its military movement in their press statement stating that this was a “serious challenge against the security of the Korean peninsula.”
The launch is seen as a response of North Korea on the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a joint military exercise between South Korea and the US involving a computer-simulated defense of South Korea from a fictional North Korean invasion.
In regards to the missile, it is widely speculated to be the most successful launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by North Korea up to date. SLBMs are considered to be more dangerous than land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) due to the mobility of the submarines and the difficulty in detecting the preparations of the launch.
The United Nations has banned North Korea from conducting any military activities that makes use of ballistic and nuclear technology. However, North Korea has been conducting more frequent missile tests for the past few months and many believe that these tests, among those the KN-11 launch, are a buildup to North Korea’s fifth nuclear test expected to take place very soon.
– Je Seung Lee, Correspondent (Asia: Far East)