The South Korean military has confirmed that North Korea has launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile into waters off the coast of Japan.
The launch comes just weeks after South Korea displayed its own nuclear-tipped missile. In January, Pyongyang revealed a “new” type of submarine-launched missile, calling it “the world’s most powerful weapon.”
It comes as intelligence officials from South Korea, Japan, and the United States are expected to meet in Seoul to discuss North Korea. Pyongyang has conducted a flurry of testing of what it claims are hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles, as well as anti-aircraft weaponry, in recent weeks.
The United Nations has specifically forbidden North Korea from testing ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea reported on Tuesday that one missile was launched from the port of Sinpo in eastern North Korea, where Pyongyang normally bases its submarines. The East Sea, often known as the Sea of Japan, is where it landed.
According to South Korean media, the missile travelled between 430 and 450 kilometres with a 60-kilometer apogee.
North Korea conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile test in October 2019, shooting a Pukguksong-3 from an undersea platform.
The missile could have travelled roughly 1,900 kilometres if it had been launched on a regular trajectory rather than a vertical one (1,200 miles). All of South Korea and Japan would have been within striking distance.
Because missiles are launched from a submarine, they are harder to detect and can hit targets closer to them.
Sung Kim, the US ambassador to North Korea, is now in South Korea to investigate options for resuming talks with Pyongyang, including whether or not a formal proclamation of the Korean War’s end should be issued.
Previous talks between the US and North Korea ended in failure owing of fundamental differences on denuclearization. The US wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons before sanctions can be removed, but North Korea has so far refused.