South Korea successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Wednesday, becoming the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system as it aims to better counter North Korea’s growing threats.
South Korea’s missile test came the same day as North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles off its east coast, breaching U.N. sanctions and ratcheting up regional tensions just days after testing a cruise missile with possible nuclear capabilities.
President Moon Jae-in attended an underwater ejection test of the SLBM aboard the new 3,000 ton class Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine commissioned last month, his office said.
The test would make South Korea the first country to launch it without nuclear weapons, which are typically used to arm SLBMs, following the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and India.
North Korea has unveiled a series of its own SLBMs in recent years, and is building an operational submarine to deploy them, Seoul officials have said.
“Possessing a SLBM has significant meaning in securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats, and it is expected to play a key role in building self-defence capability and peace on the Korean peninsula,” Moon’s office said in a statement.
The military has also developed other new missiles, including a supersonic cruise missile to be deployed in the near future, and a new ballistic missile that has “overwhelming counterattack capability” by firing a larger warhead, Moon’s office said.
It added that the military in July successfully carried out a fire test of a solid fuel propulsion system to be used for space vehicles.
Photo: People watch a television showing breaking news at station in Seoul, South Korea, 15 September 2021. According South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on 15 September that North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea. EPA-EFE/JEON HEON-KYUN