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Seoul, Washington capture Pyongyang’s SLBM launch preparations

Seoul, Washington capture Pyongyang’s SLBM launch preparations

Posted November. 01, 2021 07:29,   

Updated November. 01, 2021 07:29


U.S. and South Korean intelligence authorities are keeping a close eye on signs of an SLBM launch shown in Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, North Korea.

“U.S. and South Korean surveillance forces including satellites and reconnaissance planes have kept track of SMBM-related signs around a shipbuilding yard in Sinpo over several days,” said a South Korean military source on Sunday. Reportedly, North Korea was caught preparing to test-launch SLBMs by mobilizing facilities and equipment such as submarines, barges and cranes.

Seoul and Washington expect Pyongyang to test-launch the new type of SLBM again, which was fired from a Sinpo class submarine, a.k.a. the Gorae (“whale”) off the coast of Sinpo on Oct. 19. The two nations assume that a possible test launch aims to carry out a practical level of performance testing for precision strikes by firing the new missile at a deeper depth further off the coast. The new class of SLBM launched by Pyongyang on Oct. 19 flew around 590 kilometers with an apogee of 60 kilometers. Just as the KN-23, or a single-stage solid-fuel missile of North Korea that is fired from the ground, the new SLBM runs a pull-up maneuver that enables it to avoid being shot during falling, called a marine version of the 9K720 Iskander.

U.S.-based North Korea monitoring website 38 North also reported on Friday (local time) that satellite images taken on Thursday show signs of another SLBM launch, analyzing that a series of moves by a Gorae SSB nearby also implies Pyongyang’s missile preparations.

The Gorae SSB was used to launch a new SLBM on Oct. 19. Describing it as the August 24 Hero, North Korea announced that a new SLBM launch was successfully executed in five years after the Pukkuksong-1 SLBM firing in 2016.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com