North Korea Launch of Ballistic Missile From Sub May Have Failed

  • Yonhap News reports Pyongyang regime made the attempt Saturday
  • North Korea launched separate missile earlier this year

A North Korean launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine appears to have failed, Yonhap News reported, underscoring the technological limitations of the isolated nation’s weapons program.

The launch was made around 2:30 p.m. local time Saturday in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, with debris in the water indicating it failed, Yonhap said, citing an unidentified South Korean government official. South Korea Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok declined to confirm the report.

Ballistic missile launch support structure erected at test stand.
Ballistic missile launch support structure erected at test stand.
Source: DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images

The attempt, if confirmed, signals that North Korea is determined to advance its military capabilities following another launch earlier this year. South Korea downplayed that test, saying the Kim Jong Un regime is likely years away from having a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The nation has often ratcheted up tensions to seek economic and political concessions from the U.S. and South Korea.

“North Korea is never going to stop,” said Kim Soo Am, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification. “North Korea has already advertised its leader supervising the missile test. Even if they have failed to successfully launch it today, it’s telling the world it will keep going with weapons development.”

In September, the nation said it was ready to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. at any time and that its main nuclear facility was fully operational.

The U.S. and South Korea responded with a joint plan that enables the two countries to detect, disrupt and destroy North Korean missiles if needed. North Korea is banned from testing ballistic missiles under United Nations Security Council resolutions imposed over its nuclear tests and long-range rockets.

South Korea estimates North Korea has 2,500 tons to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons. North Korea also possesses an arsenal of missiles it says can strike the U.S. The regime conducted its third nuclear test in 2013 and threatened this year to conduct a fourth one.

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