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North Korea Claims Missile Launch From Submerged Submarine

An image obtained by Yonhap News Agency showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pointing at a ballistic missile believed to have been launched from underwater near Sinpo, on the northeast coast of North Korean, on Saturday.

North Korea said on Saturday that it successfully launched an anti-ship cruise missile from a submarine — a development, if verified, that would mark a new technological achievement for Pyongyang.

KCNA, the official North Korean news agency, reports that leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test form a surface vessel as "a ballistic missile surfaced from the sea and soared into the air, leaving a fiery trail of blaze."

The launch — thought to have been conducted near Sinpo, on North Korea's northeast coast — comes amid renewed tension between the navies of North and South Korea, with Pyongyang in recent days threatening to fire without warning at South Korean naval vessels that it says are violating its territorial waters, The Associated Press reports.

KCNA said the test "verified and confirmed" that the North had "fully achieved the latest military, scientific and technical requirements."

North Korea released a series of still photos showing the missile lifting off and a smiling Kim that purport to be of the test. It is worth noting that in the past, stills released by North Korea haven't always been everything they first appear to be (examples here and here.)

Even so, according to Reuters:

"In January, a research group at Johns Hopkins University's U.S.-Korea Institute said on its website, 38 North, that satellite imagery showed possible evidence of work on vertical launch tubes on a submarine that could be for ballistic missiles.

"The vessel could serve 'as an experimental test bed for land-attack submarines,' 38 North said in a report, although it cautioned such a test would be expensive and time-consuming 'with no guarantee of success.' "

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