North Korea confirms it fired new ballistic missile from submarine

North Korea has test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine, according to state media.

It confirms reports on Tuesday from South Korea that such a launch had taken place, with the missile landing in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea said the new SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) has “lots of advanced control guidance technologies” including “flank mobility and gliding skip mobility”.

The missile “will greatly contribute to putting the defence technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy”, according to the country’s KCNA media outlet.

It is the fifth round of missile tests for the totalitarian state since September, which last month included a launch from a train.

Pictures from Tuesday’s test appeared to show a smaller, thinner missile – which could mean more could be stored on one submarine, according to experts.

“It’s an interesting development but with only one submarine in the water that can launch notionally one or two of these it doesn’t change much,” said Joseph Dempsey from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“North Korea’s goal is building more powerful SLBMs that can be fired from big submarines like the US does,” added Moon Keun-sik, from Kyonggi University in South Korea.

Diplomats said Britain and the US planned to raise the test at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, while the White House urged North Korea to refrain from further “provocations”.

America has imposed tough sanctions on the country but has said it remains open to restarting talks over its weapons programme.

North Korea has so far refused and says Washington must first abandon its “hostile policy”, referring to sanctions and US-South Korea military exercises.

The test also comes days before President Biden’s special envoy on North Korea is due in Seoul for talks on the possibility of restarting diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Talks over its nuclear disarmament ground to a halt after Donald Trump’s second meeting with Kim Jong Un in 2019, when the former US president rejected a request for major sanctions relief.

South Korea, meanwhile, is accelerating its own weapons programme, which President Moon Jae-in said at a defence expo on Wednesday is aimed at achieving peace on the peninsula.

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