North Korea has claimed it has successfully test-fired a submarine-based ballistic missile “developed on the personal initiative” of leader Kim Jong-Un.
Kim, who personally oversaw the test, hailed the missile as a “world-level strategic weapon capable of striking and wiping out in any waters the hostile forces infringing upon (North Korea’s) sovereignty and dignity”, said the country’s KCNA news agency.
There was no immediate independent confirmation of the test, which would mark a major breakthrough for the country’s missile programme and violate UN resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.
But the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University believes Pyongyang is likely to be “years” away from achieving the required technology that would offer the nuclear-armed state a survivable second-strike nuclear capability.
According to the KCNA report, the test was carried out by a submarine that dived to launch depth on the sounding of a combat alarm.
“After a while, the ballistic missile soared into the sky from underwater,” the agency said.
It gave no detail of the size or range of the missile, nor did it specify when the test was carried out.
Kim described the test as an “eye-opening success” on a par with North Korea’s successful launch of a satellite into orbit in 2012.
The satellite launch was condemned by the international community as a disguised ballistic missile test and resulted in a tightening of UN sanctions.