North Korea Tests New Sub-Launched Ballistic Missile

Image courtesy North Korean state media

By The Maritime Executive 10-04-2019 05:56:00

North Korea announced Thursday that its defense scientists have conducted an underwater launch test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile. U.S. officials have confirmed the trial. 

The newly developed missile, the Pukguksong-3, is believed to have a range of up to 1,000 nm. The test prototype was launched Wednesday from a barge-mounted underwater test platform, not a submarine, analysts suggest. 

“North Korea appears to have tested the ejection capacity of its underwater launch platform ahead of the SLBM test launch,” a South Korean military official told Hankyoreh News. 

Images courtesy North Korean state media

The test launch was conducted at Wonsan Bay on the Sea of Japan, according to North Korean state news. It was aimed at a high angle, limiting the distance traveled: South Korea's defense ministry reported that the missile reached a maximum altitude of about 560 miles and traveled a horizontal distance of about 280 miles. 

The announcement comes as American and North Korean diplomats meet in Stockholm to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear program and American sanctions. “This was unnecessarily provocative and not helpful to get the North Koreans back on a diplomatic path,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman at a press conference Thursday. 

The Pukguksong-3's range exceeds that of other North Korean sub-launched ballistic missiles, and it would be a strategic weapon if combined with a submarine delivery system. Michael Elleman, an analyst with 38 North, believes that North Korea would need at least six years or more to develop the ballistic missile submarine fleet needed for a constant at-sea presence.