North’s submarine is reported marred in test

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North’s submarine is reported marred in test

A North Korean submarine mobilized to launch ballistic missiles underwater suffered serious damage last month after a failed test, according to the Washington Free Beacon, an online news outlet specializing in politics and security.

Citing unnamed American defense and intelligence officials, the site reported Wednesday that the Sinpo-class submarine deployed on Nov. 28, in the East Sea near the coastal city of Wonsan had been damaged after it failed to properly eject and launch a ballistic missile.

The report added that it was believed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been present at the launch, referring to its sources.

The report bolsters assessments in Seoul that Pyongyang has hit a significant setback in its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.

It was earlier reported in the media that North Korea appeared to have botched its SLBM test after debris of from the capsule covering the missile was captured in satellite images on the ocean’s surface.

However, it’s possible that the drill never intended for the rocket to penetrate the ocean’s surface and that North Korea was instead merely focusing on the capsule’s functionality.

If U.S. intelligence on the damage to the submarine is correct, it would indicate that the North did intend to launch the missile above water but botched the test-run.

The North’s test-fire on Nov. 28 came six months after Pyongyang boasted that Kim had overseen the successful test-launch in May of a missile from underwater.

The origins of a missile launched from underneath the ocean are much harder to detect than those launched on land; Pyongyang’s pursuit of an SLBM program is in strict violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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