North Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile
North Korea on Saturday fired what is presumed to be a short-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast, South Korea’s military said, three days before President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol’s inauguration.
The apparent SLBM was likely launched from waters near North Korea’s eastern port city of Sinpo at around 2:07 p.m., according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi also said North Korea fired what is believed to be an SLBM, adding it flew about 600 kilometers with an altitude of around 50 km.
It likely landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and the Japanese government has received no reports of damage, according to officials.
Kishi said North Korea could complete its preparation by the end of this month to conduct a nuclear test and Japan’s Defense Ministry has shared such a view with the United States.
North Korea, which has been conducting a series of missile tests since the beginning of this year, last launched an SLBM in October.
The latest test came three days after Japan and South Korea detected North Korea’s test-firing of a ballistic missile from Pyongyang’s Sunan area and ahead of the inauguration of the South Korean president-elect on Tuesday.
North Korea’s show of force came also as US President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit South Korea and Japan from May 20 to 24, making it his first trip to Asia since taking office in January 2021.