North Korea said Sunday that it successfully test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine and warned of its growing ability to cut down its enemies with a “dagger of destruction.” South Korea couldn’t immediately confirm the claim of success in what marks Pyongyang’s latest effort to expand its military might in face of pressure by its neighbors and Washington.
Hours before the announcement, South Korean military officials said the North fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile from a submarine off its eastern coast. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectile traveled about 30 kilometers (19 miles) Saturday evening. That’s a much shorter than the typical distance of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which can fly at least 300 kilometers (186 miles).
A successful test from a submarine would be a worrying development because mastering the ability to fire missiles from submerged vessels would make it harder for outsiders to detect what North Korea is doing before it launches, giving it the potential to surprise its enemies.
While South Korean experts say it’s unlikely that North Korea currently possesses an operational submarine that can fire multiple missiles, they acknowledge that the North is making progress on such technology.