North Korea has successfully tested a newly developed submarine-based ballistic missile in an underwater trial launch, according to the state-run news agency.
Such technology would provide the nuclear-armed nation with a survivable second-strike nuclear capability. Submarine-launched missile potential would also take the North Korean nuclear threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula.
If it actually occurred, the test would mark a major breakthrough for North Korea's missile programme and it would also would violate UN resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.
There was no independent confirmation that the test took place, or that it was successful. However, satellite images early this year revealed the tower of a new North Korean submarine, reports AFP. It appeared to house one or two vertical launch tubes for either ballistic or cruise missiles, US analysts concluded.
Leader Kim Jong-un, who reportedly oversaw the test himself, hailed it as a "miraculous achievement" and called it a "world level strategic weapon." He boasted that the missile is a "time bomb which will go off on the backs of our hostile enemies."
The test was carried out by a sub that dived to launch depth at the sound of a combat alarm, the Korean Central News Agency reports. Then, the missile "soared into the sky from underwater," it said.
It gave no details of the size or range of the missile, or where the test was carried out.