Second weapons test in several days as North Korea accelerates its efforts to modernize its navy.
North Korean state media says the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, oversaw the launch of two submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs), the second test of the weapon in days.
The newly developed Pulhwasal-3-31 missiles “flew into the sky over the East Sea… to hit the island target,” KCNA news agency reported Monday, adding that Kim “guided” the start.
He shared photos of Kim at an undisclosed location, pointing a missile into the sky and laughing with members of the military. In other images, huge clouds of white smoke obscured the actual launch pad.
The South Korean military announced on Sunday that several missiles had been launched from waters near the North Korean port of Sinpo, where Pyongyang operates a shipyard that manufactures naval equipment, including submarines. He did not go into detail.
The Pulhwasal-3-31 is a new generation of nuclear-capable cruise missile that Pyongyang was tested for the first time last Wednesdayas it seeks to strengthen the weapons capacity of the country’s navy.
Tests of low-flying, jet-powered cruise missiles are not prohibited by United Nations sanctions imposed over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which ban ballistic missile tests.
KCNA said the SLCMs were in the air for 7,421 seconds and 7,445 seconds – or about two hours – but did not say how far they flew.
North Korea’s exact sea launch capabilities remain unclear and previous tests have been conducted from older ships, including from a submerged platform, rather than from a true submarine. marine.
Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over Sunday’s test, according to KCNA, emphasizing North Korea’s determination to build a “powerful naval force.”
The North Korean leader separately inspected “the construction of a nuclear submarine” and discussed issues related to the construction of other new warships, the report added without giving details.
“They will focus on improving naval power in the East Sea and test weapon systems that can be mounted on submarines, the first attempt being this strategic cruise missile,” Yang Moo told AFP -jin, president of the University of North Korean Studies. Press Agency.
“In the future, this will lead to the development of submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear-powered submarines, which will have a much greater impact than SLCMs,” he added.
Proven SLBM capacity would take North Korea’s arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment well beyond the Korean Peninsula and a second-strike capability in the event of an attack.
Choi Il, a retired submarine captain in the South Korean navy, said that once a nuclear-tipped SLCM becomes operational, it would pose a “new threat” to South Korea.
“North Korea will be equipped with a dual-track nuclear attack capability, with the mass destruction capabilities of an SLBM and the precision strike capabilities of an SLCM,” he said.
In recent months, North Korea has tested various weapons, including ballistic missile systems under development and an underwater drone.
Last September, Kim launched the first nuclear attack submarinewhich analysts said was likely designed to carry ballistic and cruise missiles and appeared to have been modified from an existing diesel submarine.
KCNA said the submarine marked the start of a new chapter for the North Korean navy.