North Korea has confirmed it test-fired a new type of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, a significant escalation from the short-range tests it has conducted since May.
The projectile launched on Wednesday – the north’s 11th missile test this year – landed in the Sea of Japan, also called the East Sea.
It came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with the US would resume.
Washington and Tokyo have condemned the test.
North Korean news agency KCNA released pictures of what it said was a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) being launched “in vertical mode” in the waters off Wonsan Bay on Wednesday.
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Leader Kim Jong-un “sent warm congratulations” to those who had carried out the successful test-firing of the Pukguksong-3, which KCNA said was “of great significance”.
There was no indication that Mr Kim was at the site.
KCNA said the test was aimed at containing external threats and bolstering its self defence and added that it had had “no adverse impact on the security of neighbouring countries”.
Shortly after the launch, South Korea had said it suspected that the missile had been fired from a submarine.
According to South Korean officials, the missile flew about 450km (280 miles)and reached an altitude of 910km before landing in the sea.
In the previous 10 missile tests carried out this year, Pyongyang fired only shot-range projectiles.
This is the longest-range North Korean missile test for a considerable period. It was fired in a high, lofted flight path, reaching an altitude of some 910km. But if fired on a normal trajectory, experts believe it would have had a range of some 1,900km.
It is a reminder that North Korea is making significant progress with its submarine-launched ballistic missile programme, seen as especially threatening because of the difficulty of finding and tracking boats in the deep ocean.
Coming just ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks between US and North Korean officials, it’s a reminder that Pyongyang believes that it is negotiating from a position of strength – and must raise further doubts about obtaining any credible constraints on the development of its nuclear arsenal.
North Korea is banned from using ballistic missiles by UN Security Council resolutions, and authorities expressed particular concern at the apparent range and capabilities of this one.
The country had been developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles technology for some time before it halted all long-range missile testing.
Hours before the launch, Pyongyang said denuclearisation talks with the US could resume this week. Negotiations have been stalled since the Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and Mr Kim in February ended without an agreement.
Experts said the proximity of the test and the talks announcement was deliberate, as the North, under heavy US and UN sanctions over its nuclear programme, is trying to obtain concessions.
Sources from: BBC News
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