A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North’s arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean Peninsula and a second-strike capability in the event of an attack on its military bases, AFP reported.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected a ballistic missile early Wednesday fired in an easterly direction from the sea, northeast of the North Korean port of Wonsan.
The missile was “believed to be one of the Pukkuksong models,” the JCS said in a statement, referring to a line of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) under development by the North.
Launches like this “are not helpful to efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and we urge North Korea again to stop immediately,” it added.
The North carried out a successful test of the solid-fuel Pukkuksong-1, also known as KN-11, in August 2016, which flew around 500 kilometers.
In July, North Korean state media had published pictures of Kim Jong-un inspecting a new type of submarine, fueling concerns that Pyongyang was pushing ahead with an SLBM program.
Analysts say the missile is believed to have been fired at a lofted angle, adding it is likely an intermediate-range ballistic missile with an actual flight range of around 2,000 kilometers.
The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions.
The launch came a day after the North’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang had agreed to hold working-level talks with Washington later this week.
The two sides will have “preliminary contact” on Friday and hold negotiations the following day, Choe said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus later confirmed the talks, which she said would happen “within the next week.”
Negotiations between the two have been deadlocked since a second summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.
The two agreed to restart dialogue during an impromptu meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas in June, but the North’s anger at a US refusal to cancel joint military drills with South Korea put the process on hold.
Pyongyang also carried out several weapons tests since the meeting that have been downplayed by Trump, who dismissed them as “small” and insisted his personal ties with Kim remained good.
Relations thawed last month after Trump fired his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, whom Pyongyang had repeatedly denounced as a warmonger.