North Korea fired a submarine-launched missile on Wednesday that flew about 500 km (311 miles) towards Japan, a show of improving technological capability for the isolated country that has conducted a series of launches in defiance of UN sanctions.
Having the ability to fire a missile from a submarine could help North Korea evade a new anti-missile system planned for South Korea and pose a threat even if nuclear-armed North Korea’s land-based arsenal was destroyed, experts said.
The ballistic missile was fired at around 5:30 a.m. (2030 GMT) from near the coastal city of Sinpo, where a submarine base is located, officials at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defence Ministry told Reuters.
The projectile reached Japan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) for the first time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a briefing, referring to an area of control designated by countries to help maintain air security.
The missile was fired at a high angle, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, an indication that its full range would be 1,000 km (620 miles) at an ordinary trajectory. The distance indicated the North’s push to develop a submarine-launched missile system was paying off, officials and experts said.
North Korea’s “SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) technology appears to have progressed,” a South Korean military official said.
Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies said the test appeared to be a success.