Pyongyang confirmed Thursday it has carried out its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test in three years, in a bid to dial up pressure on the United States ahead of a weekend resumption of their nuclear diplomacy, AP reports.
This week’s test of the Pukguksong-3 missile, which North Korea describes as a submarine-launched ballistic missile, is seen as the North’s most high-profile weapons launch since it began diplomacy with the United States early last year. Some experts say North Korea wants to show to the U.S. what would happen if diplomacy fails again.
The Korean Central News Agency said the missile test in the waters off its east coast was successful and “ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces’ threat to (North Korea) and further bolstering its military muscle for self-defense.”
It didn’t say which outside forces threaten its security. But North Korea has previously said it was forced to develop nuclear-armed missiles to cope with U.S. military threats.
The KCNA report didn’t elaborate on whether the missile was fired from a submarine, a barge or other underwater launch platform. North Korea-dispatched photos showed the missile rising and spewing bright flames above a cloud of smoke from the sea, but the launch platform was not identifiable.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the North Korean missile traveled about 450 kilometers (280 miles) at a maximum altitude of 910 kilometers (565 miles). Ministry officials said the missile flew higher than any other short-range weapons North Korea test-fired in recent months.