North Korean media on Thursday confirmed Wednesday’s projectile launch was the test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The North Koreans claimed the test was a complete success.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun state newspaper reported dictator Kim Jong-un sent “warm congratulations” to the missile team on their achievement, which “ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces’ threat to the DPRK and further bolstering its military muscle for self-defense”:
The Academy of Defense Science of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea succeeded in test-firing the new-type SLBM Pukguksong-3 in the waters off Wonsan Bay of the East Sea of Korea on Wednesday morning.
The new-type ballistic missile was fired in vertical mode.
The test-firing scientifically and technically confirmed the key tactical and technical indexes of the newly-designed ballistic missile and had no adverse impact on the security of neighboring countries.
The leading officials of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and in the field of the national defense scientific research who guided the test-firing on the spot informed the WPK Central Committee of the result of the successful test-firing.
The Rodong Sinmun article was accompanied by copious photos of what appeared to be a submarine launching a missile into the sky.
The North Korean state paper followed its news item up with an editorial praising the “might of unity” and “fighting efficiency” of the Workers’ Party of Korea, which has supposedly stunned the world with its incredible technological advances:
Making selfless and devoted efforts for the good of the people is the mode of existence and revolutionary climate of the WPK.
The party makes selfless, devoted efforts for the people and the people repay the loving care and trust of the Party with loyalty. Herein lies the source of invincible might of the WPK.
There can’t be such word as impossibility for the WPK when it believes in the popular masses and relies on them. This is the steadfast will of the WPK.
It is the truth clearly proven through the struggle that the leadership of the WPK is science and victory.
North Korea watchdog website 38 North agreed Wednesday’s launch was a successful test of the Pukguksong-3 SLBM, noting that if the weapon had been launched on a normal trajectory instead of almost straight up, it would have overflown Japan and demonstrated the longest range of any North Korean missile to date.
38 North added that the photos released by North Korea suggest the missile was actually test-fired from an underwater barge rather than an operational submarine, a common practice with SLBM test launches to avoid damaging expensive submarines.
“The Pukguksong-3 represents another step forward in North Korea’s pursuit of a sea-based deterrent force. Additional flight tests are likely, including an eventual launch from a prototype submarine. North Korea will also need to build at least three, if not four or five submarines to ensure a constant at-sea presence for the second leg of its strategic arsenal, making operationalization of its SLBMs at least a half-dozen years, or possibly longer, away,” the analysis concluded.