North Korea launches SLBM near eastern coast, Seoul says

SEOUL, July 9 (UPI) — North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile early Saturday.

The test marks at least the second time Pyongyang has launched a SLBM in 2016.

According to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, the projectile was fired near Sinpo, in South Hamgyong Province.

Seoul’s military is still analyzing the distance it traveled, local news service Newsis reported.

The joint chiefs stated that on Saturday 11 a.m., local time, North Korea fired an SLBM from a maritime zone southeast of Sinpo.

An unidentified South Korean military official told Newsis the flight distance of the projectile was under investigation.

“There are no specifics at the moment,” the official said.

The test could mark the second time North Korea has launched a SLBM since April 23. Pyongyang also may have launched a projectile from a 1,800-ton Sinpo-class submarine in early April that flew about 200 meters vertically.

On April 23, North Korea fired a projectile from the sea that traveled about 18-20 miles. The SLBM exploded in mid-air and shattered into two to three pieces, Yonhap reported.

The second test on Saturday showed that “the underwater ejection showed technical progress, in terms of its capability and initial flight,” the official said.

The April SLBM fired through a vertical launch system involved a cold launch, where the missile is ejected by gas.

North Korea has virtually completed a series of underwater tests that are part of its SLBM program, according to a South Korean defense analyst.

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