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Report: South Korea testing new missile as Pyongyang commits to nuclear program

Report: South Korea testing new missile as Pyongyang commits to nuclear program
South Korea is developing a new SLBM that will undergo underwater tests in March, according to a local press report. Seoul previously tested a Hyeonmoo-2 missile (pictured) in 2018. File Photo courtesy of South Korea Defense Ministry/EPA-EFE

Jan. 13 (UPI) -- South Korea is developing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile and has tested the weapon at the Agency for Defense Development's Anheung test site, according to a local press report.

Newsis reported Wednesday the SLBM was test launched from a ground platform and next-step underwater tests are scheduled for March. South Korea's military also conducted other SLBM tests in 2020 "several times," both on land and underwater, the report said.

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The report of Seoul's domestic SLBM, described as a modified version of Korea's short-range, solid-fueled Hyeonmoo-2B ballistic missile, comes only days after a statement from North Korea on nuclear weapons.

During the Eighth Party Congress, leader Kim Jong Un said he plans to build a nuclear-powered submarine and develop a strategic weapon that can be launched from a submarine.

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In October, North Korea unveiled a new model of its SLBM, the "Pukguksong-4ㅅ," after claiming in 2019 it had succeeded launching the Pukguksong-3 from an underwater location.

South Korean military sources did not deny domestic SLBM development on Wednesday, according to Newsis. Sources told the news service Seoul has "secured hi-tech power" to "support peace on the Korean Peninsula, by building up strong military power," the report said.

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In March Seoul is expected to carry out an underwater SLBM test by deploying a 3,000-ton Dosan Ahn Changho-class submarine. The South Korean submarine is equipped with six vertical launch tubes that can eject SLBMs.

RELATED Japan says 'no' to nuclear North Korea after Kim speech

Seoul could also be monitoring the North for an outdoor military parade. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in his recent New Year's speech he hoped for joint cooperation with the North on anti-epidemic measures against COVID-19, but Pyongyang has not replied to the offer.

Kim Yo Jong, who was referred to as vice department director of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party for the first time on Wednesday, slammed the South for "precision tracking."

"Do they really have nothing else to do?" Kim said, according to North Korea's KCNA. Last year Kim warned about the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong before it was detonated in June.

RELATED North Korea delegates at Party Congress resume wearing masks

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