North Korea says underwater-launched missile test succeeded


The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with the USA would resume.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea confirmed Thursday it has carried out its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test in three years, in an apparent bid to dial up pressure on the United States ahead of a weekend resumption of their nuclear diplomacy.

Submarine-launched missiles are harder to detect than ground-based ones, increasing the threat posed to the USA and its allies.

Its state news agency KCNA said that the Pukguksong-3 missile was test-fired at a high angle in the waters off Wonsan, a military base used for previous missile launches, and was created to contain external threats.

KCNA said Thursday the missile was launched in a vertical mode and that its test had no adverse impact on the security of neighboring countries. What Pyongyang calls the success of the SLBM launch is certain to raise security concern in the region.

The US state department responded to the test by calling on Pyongyang to "refrain from provocations" and "remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations" aimed at bringing denuclearisation. But he added further analysis will be needed to determine whether it was launched from a submarine.

Negotiations between the two countries have been deadlocked since a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in February ended without a deal.

WHAT TEST INDICATES: Commentators have underlined the apparent range and capabilities of the missile, and the fact that it demonstrates continuing progress on Pyongyang's SLBM programme, long recognised as a very potent threat.

North Korea is banned from using ballistic missiles by UN Security Council resolutions, and is under U.S. and UN sanctions for its nuclear programme.

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South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said the Pukguksong, or Pole Star in Korean, would have had a range of about 1,300 km (910 miles) on a standard trajectory.

North Korea fired the missile hours after announcing it would resume talks with the United States by holding working-level negotiations on October 5.

It is the first test from a submarine by Pyongyang in nearly three years.

The European Union denounced on Wednesday North Korea's decision to fire a ballistic missile off its east coast as "yet another provocative action" and called for fresh talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that the missile, believed to be an SLBM, reached a height of around 565 miles and traveled around 280 miles before crashing into the sea.

Since then, North Korea had refused to schedule a date for the talks.

Some analysts said his rare absence indicates the North's intention not to provoke the U.S. ahead of their working-level talks, which will be held Saturday.

The projectile could have flown 2,000 kilometers - putting all of Japan within reach - if launched at a normal angle, military experts said.