N. Korea apparently fails to launch ballistic missile from sub: official
By Kim Kwang-tae
SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea apparently failed to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine, a South Korean official said Saturday, in a sign that Pyongyang has yet to master the technology.
North Korea is believed to have fired a KN-11 missile from a submarine in the East Sea roughly between 2:20 p.m. and 2:40 p.m., but the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) failed to soar from the waters, the official said
"The North appears to have failed in its launch," the official said, citing debris from the missile found on the ocean surface. The official asked not to be identified, citing the issue’s sensitivity.
It is the first time that North Korea has fired an SLBM since May when it claimed its leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a successful underwater test-launch of a "strategic submarine ballistic missile."
In May, South Korea's defense ministry described the North's SLBM launch as "very serious and worrying," though the missile appeared to have flown only about 100 or 150 meters from the surface of the water.
The Pentagon has denounced North Korea's test-firing of the missile as a "blatant violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The North's apparent failure shows that North Korea has yet to master the technology needed for SLBMs.
SLBMs, if developed in the North, would pose a serious threat because their mobile nature would make them very difficult to detect signs of a launch in advance, analysts said.
North Korean Submarine Damaged in Missile Test
Setback for Pyongyang’s missile sub program
BY: Bill Gertz
December 8, 2015 5:00 am
North Korea’s first submarine capable of firing missiles underwater suffered serious damage during a failed test launch last month, according to defense officials.
The Sinpo-class submarine attempted to launch North Korea’s KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile during a test Nov. 28 in the Sea of Japan, but officials said the missile failed to properly eject from its firing tube, causing damage to the submarine and its sail.
Details of the damage were not disclosed by officials familiar with intelligence reports of the test.
The assessment of damage to the submarine was based on debris analyzed by U.S. satellites and other technical intelligence means.
The failed test is considered a significant setback for the missile submarine program, the officials said.
The KN-11 SLBM is part of North Korea’s plan to develop missiles capable of hitting U.S. targets in the region and at long distances, analysts said. North Korea is believed to have a small nuclear warhead for its missiles.
The failed test was closely monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies that have been tracking the SLBM development program closely since at least last year.
The test was carried out in the Sea of Japan near Wonson, a coastal city in central North Korea. North Korean state-run media made no mention of the failed test. An earlier flight test was trumpeted by North Korea as a major step in the nuclear program.
The officials said it is believed North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un was present for the failed test. Kim was photographed visiting a shoe factory in Wonson the day before the missile test failure.
The missile was believed to be fired from a modified submarine whose origins are unknown.
Bruce Bechtol, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst and expert on North Korea, said the SLBM test failure indicates that North Koreans are continuing to make progress in building a larger, blue-water submarine force.
“This test appears—at least in the early analysis—to be an actual test of a submarine along with the SLBM,.” Bechtol said. “Thus, since reporting confirms that this is the third test this year, Pyongyang seems intent on testing and fielding this submarine and the matching ballistic missile as quickly as possible.”
Bechtol said more failed tests can be expected on the way toward fielding a missile submarine. The weapon will give Pyongyang “a dual-strike capability against targets all over Asia and perhaps Hawaii,” he said.
It was the second test of what the Pentagon is calling the KN-11 missile and North Korea calls the Bukgeukseong-1.
A KN-11 flight test conducted in May was a success. The KN-11 was ejected from underwater and flew a short distance. Kim was present for that test.