South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development last week carried out underwater ejection tests of the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from a new locally-developed 3,000-tonne class submarine, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday, citing sources.
The SLBM is believed to be a variant of the country’s Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile, with a range of around 500 kilometers. Equipped with six vertical launch tubes, it will be mass produced for deployment after another round of tests, the report said.
The South’s Defense Ministry refused to confirm the report due to security reasons.
“Our military secures advanced high-powered military assets to ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula by building strong military capabilities, and plans to continue to develop them,” the ministry said in a statement.
SLBMs, which are harder to detect as they are launched from submarines for surprise strikes, have been developed by only a handful of countries, including the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, and North Korea.
All of those countries also have arsenals of nuclear weapons, which have typically been used to arm SLBMs.
South and North Korea cite one another’s military developments as the reason for boosting their capabilities.
The North, has unveiled a series of new SLBMs in recent years. It is also working to build a new submarine — believed to be a 3,000-tonne — designed to carry the missiles.
North Korea tested its first SLMB in 2016 and the second one four months later. In October 2019, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested a new-type SLBM.
In January, the North’s leader Kim Jong-un told a congress that Pyongyang had completed plans for a nuclear-powered submarine.
Facing harsh sanctions by the United Nations and the United States over its nuclear and missile programs, the North has held three successive rounds of inconclusive negotiations with the US under the former president Donald Trump’s administration. The sides were ultimately unable to reach an agreement.
Pyongyang is strongly opposed to routine military exercises jointly held by the US and the South, seeing them as a rehearsal for a possible future war.