North Korea Reportedly Fires Ballistic Missile From Submarine

North Korean media reported on Saturday that the country had successfully launched a ballistic missile from a submarine, part of a test that could represent a significant step forward in the reclusive nation's much-debated weapons programs.

KCNA, North Korea's official news agency, reported that "a ballistic missile surfaced from the sea and soared into the air, leaving a fiery trail of blaze" after the submarine dove, according to Reuters. The test was conducted at an undisclosed offshore location and was observed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"Through the test, it was verified and confirmed that the underwater ballistic missile launch from a strategic submarine fully achieved the latest military, scientific and technical requirements," KCNA added.

The missile launch represents a possible new threat not only to South Korea, but also the United States and Japan. North Korea is bound by United Nations sanctions, which are intended to prevent the country from developing ballistic missile technology, and while the United States has yet to directly comment on the matter, the missile test is considered a violation of resolutions handed down by the U.N. Security Council.

Korea analyst Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington noted the importance of the test, pointing out that if North Korea's claims are verified, the country will have gained the tactical ability to move its missiles within striking range of the United States.

"The test shows that North Korea missile capabilities are advancing without any constraints now despite a bevy of nonproliferation sanctions applied by the United Nations," he noted.

North Korea has been working to develop ballistic missile technology for decades, as the Inquisitr has previously reported. Daniel Pinkston, a deputy project director at the International Crisis Group think tank, spoke with CNN, highlighting the significance of the North Korean missile test and asserting that a submarine based weapons platform is difficult to counter.

"If they can deploy an operational submarine that could launch ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads, it would give them a pretty credible second strike capability, and it's difficult to defend against. So it would give them the kind of deterrent that they have said they wish to have."
On Saturday, North Korea also fired three ship-to-ship missiles from the sea near the city of Wonsan. The announcement of its submarine based ballistic missile test comes just a day after North Korea threatened to attack South Korean naval ships that enter disputed waters without provocation.

[Image: EPA via BBC News]