North Korea appears to fire missile from submarine, says Seoul

  • AP, Seoul, South Korea
  • Updated: Apr 24, 2016 12:56 IST
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station No 3 in this undated photo . Seoul reported a missile was seen to be fired by North Korea from a submarine on Saturday. (REUTERS)

North Korea has fired what purportedly looked like a ballistic missile from a submarine off its northeast coast, South Korea said.

The ministry could not immediately confirm how far the projectile flew or where it landed. The launch took place near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo, where analysts have previously detected efforts by the North to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile systems

North Korea in recent weeks has fired a slew of missiles and artillery shells into the sea in an apparent protest against ongoing annual military drills between the US and South Korea and toughened international sanctions against Pyongyang over its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Read | North Korea’s fifth nuke test seen imminent, increased movements at site

Some analysts also think North Korea’s belligerent stance is linked to a major ruling party congress next month meant to further cement leader Kim Jong Un’s grip on power. They say the North could be making efforts to promote military accomplishments to its people to make up for a lack of tangible economic achievements ahead of the Workers’ Party congress, the first since 1980.

North Korea has been seen in recent years as developing technologies for launching ballistic missiles from underwater. Security experts say that acquiring the ability to fire missiles from submarines would be an alarming development for the North because missiles fired from submerged vessels are harder to detect before launch than land-based ones.

Also read | Convincing the doubters? North Korea declassifies nuke arms programme

While South Korean experts say it’s unlikely that North Korea currently possesses a submarine large enough to carry and fire multiple missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on a dangerous weapons technology.

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