US condemns N. Korea's test of submarine-launched missile

SEOUL : North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off its east coast yesterday, the South Korean military said, pulling Japan's new prime minister off the campaign trail and overshadowing the opening of a major arms fair in Seoul.

The US military's Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch as destabilising, but judged it did not pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies.

South Korean and US officials were investigating if the missile was a smaller, previously unseen version displayed last week in Pyongyang, a South Korean military source told Reuters, citing ongoing analysis.

They were also examining whether the missile was fired from North Korea's experimental Gorae-class submarine, he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The launch is the latest weapons test by North Korea, which has persisted with military development despite international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

South Korea said the missile was launched at 10.17am (9.17am, Singapore time) from the sea in the vicinity of Sinpo, where North Korea keeps submarines as well as equipment for test firing SLBMs.

It was not immediately clear if the missile was fired from a submarine or from a submersible test barge, as in most previous tests. A military source said it flew about 430km to 450km to a maximum altitude of 60km.

North Korea's last SLBM test was in October 2019, when a Pukguksong-3 missile was fired from an underwater platform, flying 450km to a maximum altitude of 910 km. - REUTERS