21 July 2017
US intelligence indicates that North Korea is possibly planning to launch its next missile underwater as Pyongyang’s submarine has been found sailing some 100 kilometers out to sea in international waters.
A 65 meter-long North Korean submarine was spotted in international waters in last 48 hours, two defense officials said. It has exhibited "unusual deployment activity", the officials were quoted as saying by CNN Thursday.
The vessel has sailed farther than it has before into international waters, travelling 62 miles to the Sea of Japan.
North Korea is heading forward to test components and missile control facilities for another ICBM or intermediate launch from a submarine, however the US intelligence assessment says that the program is still in early stages.
In addition to that US satellites detected new imagery and satellite-based radar emissions. The US is watching in particular for further testing of North Korean radars and communications that could be used in a launch. The next test launch would be the first since North Korea launched an ICBM on July 4.
This activity follows weeks after Pyongyang completed on the Fourth of July, what Washington has considered its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launch. Whereas, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un called the launch a "gift package" for the US on the anniversary of its Independence Day.
Kim also claimed that the Hwasong-14 missile tested most recently is capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, and some experts say that a missile from the North could have the capability to reach the US west coast in only a couple of years.