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N. Korea successfully conducts SLBM test last month: U.S. report

2016/01/06 03:29

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea successfully conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile test in late December, about a month after a previous test failed, a U.S. news report said Tuesday.

The ejection test of a KN-11 missile from a submerged submarine took place on Dec. 21 near the eastern port of Sinpo, the Washington Free Beacon reported, citing unidentified U.S. defense officials.

The test followed a Nov. 28 test in which a KN-11 missile failed to leave the water. The failure damaged the North's first missile submarine, which officials identified as the Gorae, which means whale in Korean, the report said.

The report provided no further details, including if the missile's engine ignited after the ejection or whether the missile took flight.

But it quoted an unidentified official as saying that based on the latest successful ejection test, North Korea could be as little as a year away from deploying a submarine armed with a nuclear-tipped missile.

Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman of the U.S. Defense Department, declined comment, citing intelligence matters.

In May, North Korea claimed it successfully carried out an SLBM test underwater, renewing tensions on the Korean Peninsula amid concerns that the North's SLBM capability, if fully developed, would pose a serious threat because its mobile nature would make it very difficult to detect preparations for a launch.

But experts said it was believed not to be a full-scale test, but an "ejection" test conducted in an early stage of developing SLBM capabilities. U.S. officials said the North also exaggerated progress and is many years away from developing an SLBM.

Under U.N. resolutions, the North is banned from any ballistic missile activity.

jschang@yna.co.kr

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