North Korea Fires ‘Sub-Launched Ballistic Missile’; 15th Test This Year

Update (0900ET): Reuters reports that South Korean military officials are claiming that North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

Japan also said the projectile was a short-range ballistic missile. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said North Korea’s recent development in nuclear missile-related technology and repeated launches of ballistic missiles threatened the region and the international community.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” he told reporters, adding that Japan will continue to “strengthen defense capabilities drastically” to protect its citizens from such security threats, in close cooperation with the United States, South Korea, and other allies.

For the second time in a week, and 15th time this year, North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile into the Sea of Japan.

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The short-range ballistic missile fired by North Korea Saturday reached an altitude of about 37 miles (60 kilometers) over its 373-mile (600km) trajectory, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The launch also comes just days before the swearing-in of South Korea President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol – scheduled for Tuesday – who has signaled he would take a more hawkish stance on Pyongyang than his predecessor Moon Jae-in. Yoon told Voice of America on Saturday that he does not rule out meeting with Kim in the future. 

“There is no reason to shun meetings. But if such meetings are only for show and fail to make tangible results on the denuclearization and our economic assistance to the North, they will not be helpful for denuclearizing the North and advancing the inter-Korean relationship.”

As CNN reports, at a military parade on April 25, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to ramp up his development of nuclear arms at the “highest possible” speed.”

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The US State Department warned on Friday that North Korea was preparing a nuclear test as early as this month.

Experts say the parade, as well as Kim’s rhetoric and the flurry of launches, offer a glimpse into his ambitions for his weapons program – particularly efforts to develop solid-fueled missiles that would be easier to hide from foreign spy agencies.

Finally, we note that North Korea has drastically increased the frequency of its “tests” in 2022; by comparison, it conducted only four tests in 2020, and eight in 2021.

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