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The Peninsula

A Look Back at North Korea’s SLBM Tests

Published August 29, 2016
Author: Juni Kim
Category: North Korea

By Juni Kim

North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test last week displayed a troubling advancement of North Korea’s missile technology. Despite close international attention and outcry, North Korea has made rapid advances in its SLBM capabilities since its first test last year. Although the details of some of the SLBM tests have been questioned, North Korea’s weapons development represents a growing and serious threat to regional security. Below is a list of North Korea’s known SLBM tests.

Missile Graphic

May 9, 2015 – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the launch of the KN-11 missile, which is the first known instance of North Korea test-firing a ballistic missile from a submarine underwater. The launch was reported to have occurred near the Sinpo South Shipyard. Although the missile succeeded in ejection, it only flew an estimated distance of 100-150 meters.

November 28, 2015Another KN-11 test occurred between 2:20 p.m. and 2:40 p.m., though the missile failed to successfully launch from the surface of the water. Debris from the missile was found on the ocean surface.

December 21, 2015South Korean officials reported that North Korea conducted another unsuccessful SLBM test on December 21 near Sinpo.

April 23, 2016 – North Korean media claimed a successful SLBM launch on April 24. South Korean analysis determined that the missile flew about 30 kilometers, which failed to break the determinant 300 kilometer minimum range for a successful launch.

July 9, 2016 – Another missile launch occurred around 11:30 a.m. on July 9 near Sinpo. South Korean defense sources stated that the missile flew about 10 kilometers before exploding.

August 24, 2016 – Around 5:30 a.m. on August 24, North Korea successfully launched an SLBM, which travelled approximately 500 kilometers and breached Japan’s air defense identification zone. Although only North Korea claimed prior launches to be successful, last week’s launch was widely deemed as a success by outside analysts.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone. 

Photo from Stefan Krasowski’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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