North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un supervised the test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile and declared it “the greatest success”, which puts the country in the “front rank” of nuclear military powers, official media reported yesterday.
North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Wednesday which flew about 500km (300 miles) towards Japan.
The South Korean government and experts said that the launch showed technical progress in the North’s SLBM programme.
“A test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile was successfully conducted under the guidance of supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army Kim Jong-Un,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.
“He appreciated the test-fire as the greatest success and victory,” KCNA said. “He noted with pride that the results of the test-fire proved in actuality that the DPRK joined the front rank of the military powers fully equipped with nuclear attack capability.”
DPRK, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is North Korea’s formal name.
North Korea has conducted a spate of military technology tests this year, including a fourth nuclear test in January and numerous missile launches, in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions that were tightened in March.
North Korea said this year that it had miniaturised a nuclear warhead to fit on a ballistic missile but outside experts have said there is yet no firm evidence to back up that claim or show it had mastered the technology to bring a live warhead back into the atmosphere and guide it to strike a target.
Yesterday North Korean state television showed video clips of the launch of a missile from underwater at dawn, and still photographs of Kim on the dock at a port as a large crane unloaded an object onto a submarine.
Kim is also seen jubilantly celebrating with military aides in photographs carried by the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
The Washington-based 38 North project said in a report that the missile was launched from the North’s sole experimental missile submarine and a satellite photograph taken on Monday showed final preparations, likely after the missile had already been loaded onto the submarine using a heavy construction crane.
The test showed the solid-fuel missile’s control and guidance system as well as the atmospheric re-entry of the warhead all met operational requirements, KCNA said.
The South Korean and US militaries said the missile was fired from near the coastal city of Sinpo, where a submarine base is located.
Japan said the missile reached its air defence identification zone, the first time by a North Korean missile.
The United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors on Wednesday at the request of the United States and Japan to discuss the missile launch.
Deputy Russian UN ambassador Petr Iliichev said the United States would circulate a draft press statement.
The meeting comes after the Security Council was unable to condemn a missile launch by the North earlier this month that landed near Japan because China wanted the statement to also oppose the planned deployment of a US missile defence system in South Korea.
China said on Wednesday that it opposes the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.
It had been angered by what it views as provocative moves by the United States and South Korea on the decision to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) anti-missile system in South Korea.