North Korea on Saturday fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile from a submarine off its northeast coast in Pyongyang's latest effort to expand its military might in the face of pressure by its neighbors and Washington, South Korean defense officials say. The South Korean officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules, could not immediately confirm where the projectile landed. The launch took place near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo, where analysts have previously detected efforts by the North to develop submarine-launched ballistic missile systems, the AP reports.
A successful test from a submarine would be a worrying development because mastering the ability to fire missiles from submerged vessels would make it harder for outsiders to detect what North Korea is doing before it launches, giving it the potential to surprise its enemies. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the projectile fired by the North traveled about 19 miles. It said a typical submarine-launched ballistic missile can travel at least 186 miles. The US State Department would not comment on the reports of Saturday's launch, but noted, "Launches using ballistic missile technology are a clear violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions." (A launch attempt earlier this month was an embarrassing flop.)