North Korea confirms new ballistic missile underwater launch – .

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North Korea confirms new ballistic missile underwater launch – .


SEOUL, Oct.20 (Reuters) – North Korea has conducted a test firing of a new, smaller ballistic missile from a submarine, state media confirmed on Wednesday.

The state media statement came a day after the South Korean military said it believed North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off its east coast, the latest in a series of North Korean missile tests.

The White House urged North Korea to refrain from further “provocations,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the United States remained open to diplomatic engagement with North Korea over its programs. armament.

Pyongyang has so far rejected such overtures, accusing the United States and South Korea of ​​talking diplomacy while exacerbating tensions with their own military activities.

The United States and Britain plan to lift the North’s latest test at a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, diplomats said.

The “new type” SLBM was launched from the same submarine involved in a 2016 test of an older SLBM, the North Korean state news agency KCNA reported.

North Korea has a large fleet of aging submarines, but has yet to deploy operational ballistic missile submarines beyond the Gora-class experimental boat used in the tests.

Photos released by KCNA appeared to show a thinner and smaller missile than previous designs of North Korea’s SLBM, and may be an unreleased model first shown at a defense exhibition in Pyongyang last week. .

A smaller SLBM could mean more missiles stored on a single submarine, albeit with a shorter range, potentially bringing nuclear North Korea closer to commissioning a missile-launcher submarine. ballistic (SSB).

“While a smaller design of North Korea’s SLBM may allow more missiles per ship, it could also allow for smaller and less difficult SSB designs, including easier integration / conversion on pre-existing submarines. », Joseph Dempsey, defense researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. , said on Twitter.

Still, development was only to have a limited impact on Pyongyang’s arsenal until it progressed further on a larger submarine that was seen under construction.

“It just means they’re trying to diversify their submarine launch options,” said Dave Schmerler, senior associate researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. “It’s an interesting development, but with a single submarine in the water that can theoretically launch one or two, that doesn’t change much. “

Kim Dong-yup, a former South Korean naval officer who teaches at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said the missile could be an advanced version of the KN-23, a short-range ballistic missile being tested for the first time. in 2019, citing its scope, visual likeness, and guidance technologies shown.

KCNA said the new SLBM featured advanced capabilities, including “flank mobility and glide mobility”.

“(The SLBM) will go a long way in bringing the country’s defense technology to a high standard and improving the submarine operational capability of our navy,” KCNA added.

Schmerler said the “glide skip” was a way of altering the trajectory of a missile to make it more difficult to track and intercept.

North Korea has carried out several tests in recent years with short-range ballistic missiles which analysts say are designed to evade missile defense systems in South Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly missed Tuesday’s test.

The missile was launched from the sea near Sinpo, where North Korea maintains submarines as well as equipment for SLBM test firing, South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; edited by Chris Reese, Richard Pullin and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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