Seoul: N. Korea fires sub-launched missile
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
A North Korean ballistic missile fired from a submarine Wednesday flew about 310 miles in the longest flight by that type of weapon, Seoul officials said, a range that can place much of South Korea within its striking distance.
Seoul officials condemned the launch as an “armed protest” against the start of annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that North Korean calls an invasion rehearsal. The launch also was the latest in a series of missile, rocket and other weapon tests by North Korea, which is openly pushing to acquire a reliable weapon capable striking targets as far away as the continental U.S.
The missile fired from a submarine off the eastern North Korean coastal town of Sinpo landed in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. Strategic Command said it tracked the North Korean submarine launch of the presumed KN-11 missile into the Sea of Japan.
The 310-mile distance is longer than ones recorded by other submarine-launched missiles launched by North Korea, and puts most of South Korea within its range if it is fired near the border, although North Korea has a variety of land-based missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan.
North Korea fired two missiles from submarines earlier this year but South Korean defense officials believe they exploded in midair after flying fewer than 18 miles.
The North’s acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development because missiles fired from submerged vessels are harder to detect in advance. The U.S. Strategic Command statement said the North Korean launch did not pose a threat to North America but that the U.S. military “remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations.”