A North Korean ballistic missile fired from a submarine Wednesday flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles) in the longest flight by that type of weapon, Seoul officials said, a range that can place much of South Korea within its striking distance.
Seoul officials condemned the launch as an “armed protest” against the start of annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that North Korean calls an invasion rehearsal. The launch was also the latest in a series of missile, rocket and other weapon tests by North Korea, which is openly pushing to acquire a reliable weapon capable striking targets as far away as the continental U.S.
The missile fired from a submarine off the eastern North Korean coastal town of Sinpo landed in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. Strategic Command said it tracked the North Korean submarine launch of the presumed KN-11 missile into the Sea of Japan.
The 500-kilometer distance is longer than ones recorded by other submarine-launched missiles launched by North Korea, and puts most of South Korea within its range if it is fired near the border, although North Korea already has a variety of land-based missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the missile breached his country’s air defense identification zone and condemned what he called an “unforgivable, reckless act” and a grave threat to Japan’s security. He said Tokyo had lodged a protest with North Korea.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the projectile fell in water about 80 km inside the Japan’s ADIZ.
Some civilian experts said they believe the North already has the technology to put warheads on shorter-range missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan.
South Korean defense officials believe North Korea has about 70 operational submarines and appears to be mainly imitating Russian designs to develop submarine-launched missiles. It is believed the North obtained several Soviet-era Golf-class ballistic missile submarines in the mid-1990s.
Full article: North Korean submarine-launched missile lands inside Japan ADIZ (The Japan Times)