North Korea's sub-launched missile exploded midair, Seoul says

Pyongyang is exaggerating capabilities, according to South Korean military intelligence.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea's sub-launched missile exploded midair, Seoul says
North Korea has frequently touted the power of its submarine-launched ballistic missiles, but the South’s military says the most recent device detonated mid-air before it reached 20 miles. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, May 2 (UPI) -- A submarine-launched ballistic missile North Korea said fired "successfully" in April probably exploded mid-air, South Korea military said Sunday.

The SLBM launch was followed days later by a failed launch of a midrange ballistic missile, the Musudan.


But the launch was reported as a "great success" in North Korea state media, South Korean television network KBS reported Sunday.

Pyongyang had stated there was a verifiable "stage separation" and that a "nuclear detonation device" was working.

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"All technical indicators satisfied the requirements for an underwater offensive compliant with state self-reliance," North Korea's KCTV stated on April 24.

But Seoul's military concluded the projectile exploded midair after traveling less than 20 miles. South Korea press also reported it's likely Pyongyang's military officials lied to Kim Jong Un about the results of the test.

The missile was launched from a submerged vessel located more than 120 miles from the coast, according to Seoul.

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Moon Sung-mook, a senior researcher for the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said the launch was probably executed in a show of loyalty to Kim Jong Un, and that the military pushed ahead with the test despite a lack of preparedness.


North Korea, however, has not stopped publicizing the power of its weapons.

State propaganda outlet DPRK Today stated Monday Pyongyang's SLBMs could not be blocked by the U.S. anti-missile defense system THAAD.

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"Nuclear weapons are our symbol and dignity, self-reliance and livelihood," North Korea had said in a statement issued April 20, according to South Korean news service Newsis.

"As long as U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises continue, we will go on to strengthen our nuclear offensive capabilities," North Korea stated.

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