Seoul: South Korean military officials say North Korea has fired three anti-ship cruise missiles into its eastern sea. The firings Saturday come just hours after Pyongyang’s state media touted the country’s advancing military capabilities by claiming the successful test-firing of a submarine-launched missile. An official from South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said the missiles were fired within a span of an hour in the early evening from an area near the eastern port city of Wonsan. He identified the missiles as KN-01 missiles, which the North also test-fired in February in an event personally attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
There had been expectations that Kim would attend the Victory Day celebration in Russia on Saturday for his international debut, but North Korea sent the head of its parliament instead. North Korea said Saturday it has successfully test-fired a newly developed ballistic missile from a submarine in what would be the latest display of the country’s advancing military capability.
Officials from rival South Korea previously had said that North Korea was developing technologies for launching ballistic missiles from underwater, although past tests were believed to have been conducted on platforms built on land or at water and not from submarines.
Security experts say that North Korea acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development as missiles fired from submerged vessels are harder to detect before launch than land-based ones. North Korea already has a considerable arsenal of land-based ballistic missiles and is also believed to be advancing in efforts to miniaturize nuclear warheads to mount on such missiles, according to South Korean officials.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally directed the test launching and called the missile a “world-level strategic weapon” and an “eye-opening success,” the official Korean Central News Agency said. The report did not reveal the timing or location of the launch. Kim declared North Korea now has a weapon capable of “striking and wiping out in any waters the hostile forces infringing upon the sovereignty and dignity of (North Korea).”
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of a projectile rising from the surface and Kim smiling from a distance at what looked like a floating submarine.