Daryl Kimball and Matthew McKinzie, Defense News, Feb 23
North Korea appears to have conducted a test of a missile ejection launcher that helps fire missiles from submarines, South Korean military sources said Friday.
The communist North "tested the ejection launcher from the seashore near the Sinpo South Shipyard on Jan. 23 for missiles that can be fired from submarines," one military source here said, requesting anonymity.
The ejection test last month from the North's northeast coast simulated the initial stage of boosting a missile out of a submarine launch tube, the source said.
According to South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials, the North has been developing a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in a move to boost its underwater missile strike capabilities after launching a new 2,500-ton submarine last year.
The North's move appears to be part of its efforts to equip its missiles with miniaturized nuclear bombs, raising further concerns over the North's evolving missile and nuclear threats, say North Korean watchers.
Noting that the objects from the launcher fell into the water after flying some dozen meters during the test, another South Korean military source said he does "not think it was a flight test just as the U.S. media website, Washington Free Beacon, reported earlier this week."
Citing U.S. defense officials, the website reported that Pyongyang had carried out the first flight test of its SLBM last month.
Noting that the North carried out similar land-based tests last year, another South Korean military source said the ejection tests "seem at least partly to show off its SLMB development project." (Yonhap)