Pukguksong-3 - SLBM
U.S. intelligence authorities reportedly captured images of a submarine-launched ballistic missile(SLBM) at the Sinpo shipyard in North Korea. KBS reported 25 September 2020 that the U.S. secured the satellite images of the SLBM and submersible launcher through intelligence assets and conveyed them to South Korea. It was the first time a North Korean SLBM under development was captured by a U.S. reconnaissance satellite.
As the photos were not released to the public, it is unknown whether the U.S. captured the missile being transported on the ground or to a submarine. South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were reportedly assessing that North Korea is unlikely to launch the SLBM before October 10, the anniversary of the founding of the North's ruling Workers' Party.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that North Korea fired a ballistic missile on 02 October 2019 from waters near the eastern port city of Wonsan in North Korea's Kangwon-do Province. North Korean state media confirmed that the projectile was a medium-range ballistic missile of a type called the Pukguksong-3, a sea-based version of the ground-launched ballistic missile Pukguksong-2. The "Pukguksong-3" nomenclature had previously been associated with a longer-range, three stage ICBM. The missile was fired in an easterly direction at 7:11AM local time Wednesday 02 October 2019. The maximum flight altitude was some 910 kilometers and the flight distance was around 450 kilometers. The Joint Chiefs identified the launch as a "Pukguksong-type" missile.
North Korea's state-run media reported that the country had succeeded in test-firing a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM. The media reported that the North launched the Pukguksong-3 missile in the Sea of Japan. The report said the test-firing had no adverse impact on the security of neighboring countries. It also said the launch has great significance as it ushered in a new phase of containing foreign forces' threat to the North and further bolstered its military muscle for self-defense. The report said the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, sent warm congratulations to defense officials. But it was unclear if he was present at the test launch.
During an emergency meeting, the National Security Council voiced grave concerns saying the North may be developing a submarine-based ballistic missile at a time Pyeongyang and Washington are preparing for working-level talks. Submarine-based ballistic missiles are believed to be more threatening than missiles fired from land since the launch site is harder to detect in advance. It's believed the North is developing a Pukguksong-three missile and submarines of more than 3-thousand tons and that the recent launch could have been planned in advance regardless of progress on denuclearization talks.
The North had fired Pukguksong-one missiles three times from submarines in 2016 and fired a Pukguksong-two missile from land in 2017. Meanwhile, Tokyo has corrected its analysis on the missile launch saying that it was in fact one missile that had been fired and not the initial two that it had announced. Tokyo says it's investigating further on whether the one missile had separated into two. Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, meanwhile, has said that South Korea, under the military intel-sharing pact with Japan, had asked Japan for the specifics of the missiles launched by North Korea this morning. His remarks came when asked about whether Korea and Japan shared information regarding today's missile launch during the parliament's annual audit of government ministries.
The U.S. State Department's Spokesperson called on the regime to refrain from provocations. According to Reuters, Morgan Ortagus pointed out, the North should abide by its obligations imposed by UNSC resolutions and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do its part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. While there were concerns the launch of a possible SLBM could prompt President Trump to change his mind over the upcoming bilateral talks, the department's response suggests that's not the case.
North Korea showcased previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles at an unprecedented predawn military parade on 10 October 2020 that showcased the country’s long-range missiles for the first time in two years. Also displayed were the Hwasong-15, which is the longest-range missile ever tested by North Korea, and what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The SLBM appeared to be a slightly modified variant of the Pukguksong-3, which seemed to have a diameter of possibly as great as 2.5 meters, a bit larger than the roughly 2 meters of the earlier Pukguksong-2. Ahead of the parade, which was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ Party, officials in South Korea and the United States said Kim Jong Un could use the event to unveil a new “strategic weapon” as promised earlier this year. The parade featured North Korea’s ballistic missiles for the first time since Kim began meeting with international leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, in 2018.
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