North Korea is testing a submarine missile system in what one defense official called “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of activity.
Four tests of a cold-ejection launch system for submarine-based ballistic missiles have been carried out at the Sinpo Naval Shipyard this year, with the latest one taking place in recent days, officials told CNN.
A cold-launch system prevents the missile’s engine from burning the submarine. With such a system, the missile is propelled away from the submarine before the engine starts.
“Achieving a successful cold-launch ejection test, even from land-based tubes, is a critical step forward in making an operational missile,” defense analyst Michael Gatling told The Telegraph. “The whole point of putting missiles into a stealthy platform like a submarine is to achieve tactical surprise, and this moves closer to that.”
Just last week, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that experts say likely could have reached Denver or Chicago if it had been fired in that direction.
Strangely enough, North Korea has the world’s largest submarine fleet with 76 ships, according to Global Firepower. Most of those vessels are small diesel-powered submarines not capable of hauling missiles, but all it would take is one nuclear submarine to cross the Pacific to kill several million Americans.
Meanwhile, a North Korean submarine equipped with 14 torpedoes and up to 20 mines conducted tests for a week in July off the coast of the Korean peninsula. Officials with the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University told The Telegraph that the latest cold-launch test “most likely is preparations for a test in the near future of an updated Pukguksong-1 submarine-launched ballistic missile or a potentially newer system.”
North Korean launched its first submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in August 2016.
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