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UN Security Council Condemns North Korean Missile test

  • Brian Padden

A photo shows the underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, April 24, 2016.

A photo shows the underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, April 24, 2016.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned North Korea for its submarine launched ballistic missile test Saturday, calling it "another serious violation" of existing U.N. resolutions.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Council said these missile activities "contribute to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's development of nuclear weapons delivery systems," while increasing global tensions.

The statement also warned that the Security Council will "take further significant measures" against the North, just weeks after imposing tough new sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to comply with existing U.N. mandates.

Pyongyang's state-run KCNA news agency said the latest test, which was personally monitored by leader Kim Jong Un, proved the reliability of its submerged launching system. However, South Korea called the test a failure, noting that the missile traveled only 30 kilometers before falling into the sea.

The flight was well short of the minimum 300 kilometer range for the type of missile tested, and one Seoul government source said the missile’s engine malfunctioned shortly after it was launched.

A photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un focusing on the underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, April 24, 2016.

A photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un focusing on the underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, April 24, 2016.

Obama dismisses N. Korean offer

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama said it is "clear that North Korea is actively engaged in provocative behavior." During a visit to Germany, Obama also dismissed a North Korean offer to impose a moratorium on nuclear tests if the U.S. suspends annual military drills with South Korea.

"We don't take seriously a promise to simply halt until the next time they decide to do a test," Obama said.

Obama's comments came shortly after North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong told the Associated Press his government is prepared to halt its nuclear related testing in exchange for an end to U.S. participation in the annual military training.

North Korea is considered to be in the early stages of developing a submarine based missile launch capability. It has attempted three SLBM tests in the last year. All were believed to have been failures, even though KCNA claimed otherwise, and - according to analysts - videos of past launches were edited to make them appear successful.

SLBM development

Analysts say with each test, Pyongyang is correcting past mistakes and coming closer to developing a dangerous new capability to strike its enemies in the region and even target the U.S. mainland.

Melissa Hanham at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California said that still photographs of Saturday's test seem to indicate the submarine based missile has now been upgraded to use solid fuel.

"A solid fuel SLBM would mean they could launch more easily and quickly with potentially less risk to their sub," Hanham told VOA via Twitter.

Visitors look at the north side at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border with North Korea, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2016.

Visitors look at the north side at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border with North Korea, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2016.

Analysts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies posted a video analysis of Pyongyang’s last submarine missile test in January to prove it was an explosive dud and not the great success claimed by North Korea.

Future threat

North Korea maintains one of the world's largest submarine forces, with approximately 70 underwater vessels. Most of these submarines, however, are old, built with 1950s technology and powered by diesel electric, which means they can only stay submerged and hidden from radar for a few days at a time.

Since Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011, the North Korean military has accelerated efforts to modernize its submarine fleet, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, a global security journal.

Pyongyang likely overstated the results of its SLBM capability to enhance Kim’s image within the country as it prepares for a rare and major ruling Workers Party congress in early May. The country's last major party congress was held in 1980.

And there has been speculation the North Koran military was under pressure to quickly conduct a successful test after a midrange land based missile launch ended in catastrophic failure earlier this month.

A man watches a TV news program showing a file footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, April 23, 2016.

A man watches a TV news program showing a file footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, April 23, 2016.

Analysts say North Korea’s primary strategic goals for developing missile launch capabilities from submarines are defense related. Having an underwater nuclear arsenal would give Pyongyang a “second strike” capability if the U.S. or South Korean forces attempted a preemptive attack against its land based missiles, according to analysts.

Developing an SLBM capability that is fitted with a nuclear warhead also would give North Korea the ability to strike the U.S. mainland.

The U.S. Strategic Command says Pyongyang's submarine missile launch "did not pose a threat to North America.'' In a statement, it said that U.S. military forces" remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security.''

WATCH: Related video of North Korea missile launch

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