North Korea tests ‘submarine-launched missile’ ahead of nuclear talks with US

People watch a television news screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on October 2, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2019

North Korea tests ‘submarine-launched missile’ ahead of nuclear talks with US

  • It was the 11th test-launch of missiles and rockets this year by the reclusive east Asian state
  • The missile was launched a day after Pyongyang announced it would return to the negotiating table with the US to discuss its nuclear disarmament plans

SEOUL: North Korea on Wednesday test-fired a missile from waters off its east coast just hours after agreeing to resume nuclear talks with the US.

It was the 11th test-launch of missiles and rockets this year by the reclusive east Asian state.

However, the missile was fired at sea, indicating the weapons system could have been a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a development that would pose greater threats to regional stability, South Korean defense authorities told Arab News.

The missile was launched a day after Pyongyang announced it would return to the negotiating table with the US to discuss its nuclear disarmament plans.

“The missile is presumed to be an SLBM since it was believed to be fired at sea,” South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told lawmakers during a parliamentary session. “We’re analyzing the details of the missile, which is seen as a variant of the Pukguksong SLBM.”

The Pukguksong is currently under development in North Korea with the first version of the SLBM tested three times in 2016. So far, the North is believed to have developed two versions with a maximum flight range of around 1,300 kilometers.

Last July, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a newly built submarine presumed to have three missile launch tubes that could fire SLBMs.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the latest missile was fired from off the east coast near to the city of Wonsan into the sea at 7:11 a.m. and flew around 450 kilometers at a maximum altitude of some 910 kilometers.

It is not clear whether the missile was launched from a submarine, a ship, or a platform on the water.

Along with its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), North Korea’s SLBM program is considered one of the biggest threats to the US and its Asian allies due to its radar-evading characteristics.

“Submarine-launched missiles are hard to detect in advance before they emerge from the water,” Kim Dae-young, a weapons analyst at the Korean Research Institute for National Strategy, told Arab News. “With the SLBM, North Korea could extend the range of its nuclear arsenal.”

Experts say the latest version of the Pukguksong is expected to have a firing range of 2,000 to 3,000 kilometers, which could reach western parts of the US continent as well as Hawaii.

“The latest missile was fired at a high angle, and if it had been fired at a normal angle, it would have flown up to 2,000 kilometers,” said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at South Korean Kyungnam University’s Far East Institute.

The presidential National Security Council (NSC) expressed “strong concern” about the SLBM test that could compromise efforts to revive the denuclearization talks that have been stalled for a year.

“The NSC members expressed strong concern about the latest missile launch ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks between the US and North Korea,” Seoul’s presidential office, the Blue House, said in a statement. “We’re in close consultation with the US over the motive and background of North Korea.”

On Tuesday, North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui said Pyongyang and Washington had agreed to resume working-level discussions on Saturday, according to a statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, with the two sides having “preliminary contact” the day before. The time and venue have yet to be disclosed.

The denuclearization talks have so far failed to yield fruit, mainly due to disagreements over sanctions on the communist state. North Korea has demanded they be lifted step by step in return for its disarmament efforts, while the US insisted sanctions remained in place until all denuclearization was completed.

“It seems that the North sends a clear message that it would keep modernizing its weapons systems, especially as long as the US keeps the sanction regime against the North,” said Prof. Kim. “I wonder if (US) President (Donald) Trump would devalue the SLBM test, too, in spite of the missile’s greater threat to the US.”

Some government sources believe the SLBM test could be a response to the deployment of F-35 stealth fighters in South Korea.

On Tuesday, the flight of F-35 jets for the South Korean Air Force were made public for the first time to mark the 71st Armed Forces Day.

The North has been sensitive about F-35 deployment in the South due to the US aircraft’s stealth features that can penetrate into enemy areas without detection.

South Korea plans to acquire 40 F-35A jets, built by Lockheed Martin, with a plan for 20 more additional orders.

 

 


Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

Updated 3 min 46 sec ago

Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

  • Protesters managed to stop the truck and beat up the driver, who was later arrested by police
  • A New York City Police car earlier drove into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: A tanker truck drove through thousands of people marching on a Minneapolis highway to protest the death of George Floyd on Sunday before protesters dragged the driver from the cab and beat him, according to a Reuters witness and authorities.
It did not appear any of the marchers were injured when the truck raced toward them on I-35, blowing its horn, sending protesters scattering before coming to a stop, according to the witness and a tweet by the Minnesota Department of Public Security (MNDPS).
Police arrived soon after and arrested the truck driver, who was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, MNDPS said.
Video of the incident shows protesters swarming the vehicle before it comes to a stop.

Protesters hand over to police the driver of a tanker truck after he drove into a crowd marching on 35W north bound highway in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

“The incident just underscores the volatile situation we have out there,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz told a news conference, adding he did not know the motives of the driver.
It marked the second incident in as many days of a vehicle driving at people protesting Floyd’s death after a New York City Police car was captured on video on Saturday driving into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” MNDPS tweeted.
Video showed the truck had a logo on its side for “Kenan Advantage Group,” an Ohio-based transportation company.
The company said in a statement that it was informed of an incident involving one of its independent contractors in Minneapolis and it would be cooperating with investigating authorities.
MNDPS did not identify the driver but said the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were investigating the incident as a criminal matter.