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Saturday, July 9, 2016, 13:21

DPRK's submarine-launched missile test 'fails'

By Agencies

DPRK's submarine-launched missile test 'fails'
In this May 31, 2016, file photo, a man watches a TV news program reporting about a missile launch of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, the R epublic of Korea. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday fired what appeared to be submarine-launched ballistic missile off its eastern coast, the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s military said, in the latest test that's part of efforts by the North to advance technology capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

The missile was fired from a location near the DPRK coastal town of Sinpo, where analysts have previously detected efforts by the North to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile systems, said an official from Seoul's Defense Ministry, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules. He couldn't immediately confirm how far the missile traveled and where it landed.

The ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it presumed the missile successfully ejected from the submarine's launch tube, but failed in its early stage of flight. The ROK's Yonhap news agency said that the missile likely flew only a few kilometers before exploding midair, but the Defense Ministry official couldn't confirm the report.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the DPRK's firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile is a "clear challenge to UN Security Council resolutions," reported the Kyodo news agency.

"We should strongly condemn the launch by working with the international community," Abe told reporters, the agency said.

The DPRK's acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development for rivals and neighbors because missiles from submerged vessels are harder to detect in advance. While security experts say it's unlikely that the DPR possesses an operational submarine capable of firing missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on such technology.

The DPRK already has a considerable arsenal of land-based ballistic missiles and is believed to be advancing its efforts to miniaturize nuclear warheads mounted on missiles through nuclear and rocket tests.

The DPRK last test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile in April, calling it as a success that strengthened its ability to attack enemies with "dagger of destruction." The ROK defense officials then said that the missile flew about 30 kilometers before exploding midair.

The North also test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Dec 25, but that test was seen as failure, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The North first claimed a successful submarine-launched missile test in May last year.

The latest launch came a day after US and the ROK military officials said they were ready to deploy an advanced US missile defense system in the ROK to cope with DPRK threats.

Seoul and Washington launched formal talks on deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, after the DPRK conducted a nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier this year. China, Russia and the DPRK all say the THAAD deployment could help US radars spot missiles in their countries.

The deployment decision for THAAD came after the DPRK angrily reacted to new US sanctions on leader Kim Jong-un and other top officials for human rights abuses, with Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry on Thursday saying such measures were tantamount to declaring war.

The DPRK has already been sanctioned heavily because of its nuclear weapons program. However, the action by the Obama administration on Wednesday marked the first time Kim has been personally targeted, and also the first time that any DPRK official has been blacklisted by the US Treasury in connection with reports of rights abuses.

The United States stations about 28,500 troops in the ROK as deterrence against potential aggression from the DPRK.

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