N. Korea launches short-range missile presumed to be SLBM

Posted on : 2021-10-20 17:16 KST Modified on : 2021-10-22 10:58 KST
This is the North’s eighth missile test of the year, coming amid discussions aimed at restarting the peace process
A North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile heads skyward on Aug. 24, 2016. (KCNA/Yonhap News)
A North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile heads skyward on Aug. 24, 2016. (KCNA/Yonhap News)

North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile that is presumed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Tuesday.

This is the North’s first launch of an SLBM — a strategic weapon deemed a “game changer” on the battlefield — since October 2019.

On the same day, the standing committee of the Blue House National Security Council (NSC) in an emergency meeting expressed “deep regret” toward Pyongyang regarding the launch.

The Joints Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, “At around 10:17 today [Tuesday], North Korea launched an unidentified short-range ballistic missile believed to be an SLBM from the sea east of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, into the East Sea,” adding, “South Korean and US intelligence are conducting detailed analyses of additional specifications and characteristics.”

The missile is reported to have flown for 590 kilometers at an altitude of 60 kilometers.

As the JCS said the launch site was “the sea east of Sinpo,” this could have been the North’s first test of an SLBM from a submarine. Pyongyang is developing a 3,000- to 4,000-ton submarine capable of carrying SLBMs at a shipyard in Sinpo. In August 2016, it conducted a test-launch of the Pukguksong-1 off the coast of Sinpo and that of the Pukguksong-3 off Wonsan Bay in October 2019.

Tuesday’s missile test was the North’s eighth of the year. With the US and Japan preparing to resume the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, including discussions of declaring a formal end to the war, Seoul seems baffled over yet another show of force by Pyongyang.

In the NSC meeting chaired by National Security Office Director Suh Hoon, the presidential office said, “We express deep regret over North Korea’s missile launch that came amid recent active consultations between us and major countries such as the US, China, Japan and Russia to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.”

The Ministry of Unification added, “We will make consistent efforts to manage the situation on the Korean Peninsula peacefully and stably. Through inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation, we seek to achieve complete denuclearization and settlement of peace on the Peninsula and advance bilateral ties.”

By Kwon Hyuk-chul, Lee Wan and Lee Je-hun; staff reporters

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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