North Korea has long claimed that they can fire missiles from submarine platforms, but until now they haven’t entirely proven that boast without additional photoshopped fakery. Remember this from last year?
Three months ago, there seemed to be some “credible evidence” of a successful test, but later evidence showed that the missile only traveled 19 miles from its launch before exploding in flight. A test early this morning appears to have met a similar fate, but with an even shorter distance:
North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Saturday but the launch appears to have failed in the early stages of flight, South Korea’s military said.
The launch comes a day after the U.S. and South Korea pledged to deploy an anti-missile system to counter threats from Pyongyang, and two days after North Korea warned it was planning its toughest response to what it deemed a “declaration of war” by the United States. That followed Washington’s blacklisting of the nation’s leader Kim Jong Un for alleged human rights abuses.
A single missile, presumed to be a SLBM, was launched off southeastern shore off Shinpo, Hamkyung Namdo located in northern North Korea at around 11:30 am Seoul time, according to a statement from the South Korea Ministry of National Defense.
“We can confirm that North Korea succeeded in launching off from the submarine but the ballistic missile failed in the initial part of flying,” a military officer from South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense told NBC News.
That’s the good news. The bad news, as the Chicago Tribune points out, is that the Kim regime isn’t getting discouraged by their failures:
North Korea’s acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development for rivals and neighbors because missiles from submerged vessels are harder to detect in advance. While security experts say it’s unlikely that North Korea possesses an operational submarine capable of firing missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on such technology.
North Korea already has a considerable arsenal of land-based ballistic missiles and is believed to be advancing its efforts to miniaturize nuclear warheads mounted on missiles through nuclear and rocket tests.
Jazz noted the biggest issue with Pyongyang’s submarine technology in April. It’s not developing a launch platform — it’s developing a submarine that doesn’t scream “HERE WE ARE!!!” wherever it goes. Business Insider reported that North Korea’s submarine technology is still decades behind the US, Russia, and China, in part because they have only rudimentary nuclear technology and have to rely on diesel:
The Diplomat notes that Pyongyang’s fleet of rusting diesel submarines is capable of little more than coastal defense and has limited offensive capabilities. North Korea has approximately 70 submarines in its fleet, but 20 are Romeo-class submarines built with 1950s technology. Another 40 are North Korean domestically developed Sang-O-class subs that were specially developed for the insertion of special forces into South Korea, along with mine deployment. The rest of the fleet is thought to be comprised of Yono-class midget submarines with limited range, firepower, and operating depth.
All of these submarines are diesel-electric and extremely old. As such, the submarines can submerge for only a few days at a time — and once they surface, it would easy for South Korea to be able to pinpoint their location.
Right now, Pyongyang’s land-based missile systems are much more threatening to South Korea and Japan. That’s why the US is providing Seoul with with a new missile-shield system as a response to multiple violations of UN sanctions, and a lack of progress in getting China to yank Kim Jong-un’s leash:
The United States and South Korea said Friday they had decided to deploy an advanced missile defense system to counter North Korea’s missile threat.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system will be deployed solely to counter the threat from the North, the South’s Defence Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department said in a joint statement.
China reacted angrily, lodging protests with the American and South Korean ambassadors. It has supported sanctions on North Korea but objects to the THAAD deployment because the system’s radar can reach into its territory.
Well, if China doesn’t like a THAAD system near its territory, then they can jolly well crack down on their puppet in the northern end of the peninsula. This move is long overdue, and China only has itself to blame for its lack of action when it comes to dealing with the Kim regime. And if they don’t take the hint now, the next move might be a nuclear Japan as a counterweight to the nuclear North Korea that has suited Beijing thus far.