North Korea recently conducted a third test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that is part of Pyongyang’s expanding nuclear arsenal, according to US defense officials cited by the Washington Free Beacon.
The test took place on April 22 from an underwater test platform near the coastal city of Sinpo in the southeast of the country, and tested what the US is calling a KN-11 missile.
The test appears to have been successful, and is the third KN-11 test showing the high-priority of the nuclear missile program for North Korea. Previous tests in January and last October were from a sea-based platform not underwater and a land-based platform.
According to analysts, these tests indicate that developing advanced underwater nuclear strike capabilities, is a high-priority project for North Korea.
The KN-11 joins the KN-08 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as being part of a varied North Korean missile arsenal on platforms that would be hard for the US to detect, and consequently allow a strike that would be difficult to shoot down.
North Korea is reportedly developing the new missile at its Sinpo South Shipyard.
Former Defence Intelligence Agency official Bruce Bechtol Jr said: "The submarine can get the platform to launch the missile within range of the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii.
"Thus, once operational, this immediately brings key nodes in the United States within range of what would likely be a nuclear armed missile."
Admiral Cecil D. Haney, commander of the Strategic Command, confirmed the SLBM launch test in comments to the Senate on March 19, reports the Washington Free Beacon. The program is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Meanwhile, South Korea unveiled its sixth 1,800-ton-class attack submarine Thursday aimed at boosting its underwater warfare capabilities against North Korea.
The launching ceremony for the 214-class submarine, manufactured by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. and named after revered independence fighter Yu Gwan-sun (1902-1920), will take place in the southern coastal city of Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, according to the Navy.