Wednesday 28 September 2016

South Korea urges North to halt submarine missile tests

Reuters World Service

Published 11/05/2015 | 10:06

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile (not pictured), in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile (not pictured), in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at the Sinpho Pelagic Fishery Complex, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Sinpho Pelagic Fishery Complex, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 9. Reuters/KCNA

North Korea's test-firing of a ballistic missile from a submarine was "very serious and concerning", South Korea said today, with one defence official suggesting Pyongyang could have a fully operational platform in two or three years.

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Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency said on Saturday North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, oversaw the test-launch of the missile from an offshore location. Such a development could pose a new threat to the isolated country's neighbours and the United States.

"We urge North Korea to immediately stop developing SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), which hinder the stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia," Kim Min-seok, spokesman for South Korea's defence ministry, told reporters on Monday.

He said North Korea still needed time to develop additional equipment in order to make its submarine-launched missile system fully operational.

Read more here: North Korean general believed to have been behind two attacks that killed 50 people dies  

However, a South Korean defence official said North Korea could develop a fully operational submarine with ballistic missiles within two or three years.

The official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, said photographs from North Korea showing a rocket launched from the sea appeared to be authentic.

China, North Korea's only major ally, described the situation on the Korean peninsula as "very complex and sensitive."

"We hope that all relevant parties can do more to ameliorate the tense situation, and jointly maintain peace and stability," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

Read more here: US calls for North Korean restraint after missile test  

North Korea's state media often boasts of successful military and space accomplishments, including the launch of a functional communications satellite, which are not independently verified by outside experts.

It is believed to have launched a long-range rocket and put an object into orbit in December 2012, defying scepticism and international warnings not to pursue such a programme, which could be used to develop intercontinental missiles.

North Korea, already heavily sanctioned by the United Nations for its missile and nuclear tests, is technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Reuters

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