August 24, 2016
Yesterday North Korea conducted another weapons test, a highly escalatory firing of its new submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM.
The missile traveled 500 kilometers (300 miles), far exceeding the 30 km distance of the previous launch, and landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The Heritage Foundation’s Bruce Klingner, a veteran North Korea watcher with decades of experience in the Central Intelligence Agency, offers his take on the situation:
“Despite yesterday’s successful launch, the overall reliability of the SLBM remains uncertain given several previous failures and deployment likely remains several years away.
Kim Jong-un is pushing forward rapidly on both nuclear and missile fronts—this year he has tested a nuclear weapon, an ICBM, reentry vehicle technology, a new solid-fuel rocket engine, an improved liquid-fuel ICBM engine, a road-mobile intermediate-range missile, and now a SLBM. During Kim’s four year reign, Pyongyang has conducted 34 missile tests, more than twice as many as his father Kim Jong-il did in 17 years in office.
South Korea does not currently have any ballistic missile defenses against a SLBM. The SM-2 missile currently deployed on South Korean destroyers only provides protection against anti-ship missiles.
The THAAD BMD system that the US wants to deploy to South Korea would enhance protection against North Korean land-based missiles. South Korea has expressed interest in the US-developed SM-3 or SM-6 ship-borne systems to provide anti-SLBM defense.”