SEOUL/TOKYO – North Korea fired what may have been a submarine-launched ballistic missile from off its east coast on Wednesday, a day after it announced the resumption of talks with the United States on ending its nuclear program.
If confirmed, it would be the most provocative test by North Korea since it started the talks with the United States in 2018. Analysts said it was likely a reminder by Pyongyang of the weapons capability it had been aggressively developing as it gears up for the new round of talks.
A State Department spokeswoman called on Pyongyang to “refrain from provocations” and remain committed to the nuclear negotiations.
South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of one missile that flew 450 km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910 km (565 miles). It was likely a Pukguksong-class weapon, as the North’s earlier submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) under development were known.
South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told a parliamentary committee that the Pukguksong, or Pole Star in Korean, has a range of about 1,300 km (910 miles) and that the missile’s trajectory may have been raised to reduce the distance it traveled.
CNN, citing a U.S. official, said that the missile was launched from an underwater platform, which North Korea has previously done at the early stage of the SLBM program in 2015.
South Korea expressed concern and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch, saying it was a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
North Korea rejects U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology, saying they are an infringement of its right to self-defense.
Talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been stalled since a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.
The two leaders then met at the Demilitarized Zone border between the two Koreas in June and pledged to reopen working-level talks within weeks.