North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) reached “the final stage in preparation for deployment”, the Tokyo-based pro-North media outlet Chosun Sinbo reported on Thursday.“The success of the test-firing based upon the higher-tech capabilities (compared to the past) demonstrated that it’s not long till the SLBM, on which the Chosun’s national power is concentrated, is produced and is deployed for actual operations,” Chosun Sinbo said.The “SLBM can be deployed after ground and underwater ejection, flight test, and the test that a ballistic projectile equipped with a guidance system hits a target from the submarine,” Chosun Sinbo added, implying the North passed through all the processes.The North managed to reach the flight test stage within one year of it carrying out an underwater ejection test in May of 2015.
The media outlet also added the SLBM is “the strongest arms equipment and the highest nuclear war deterrence”.The North on Wednesday launched one SLBM off its east coast from Sinpo, a port in North Korea’s northeast, at around 05:30AM KST, South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) said.The launch, which was conducted under the supervision of the current leader Kim Jong Un, was described as “the greatest success and victory”, the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday.Chosun Sinbo also alluded that the North would build up a nuclear-powered submarine in the near future.“It’s not inconsistent with our military maneuvers if SLBM, which can be equipped with nuclear warhead, is loaded and operated on the old fashioned diesel-powered submarine,” the Chosun Sinbo wrote.“Leader Kim Jong Un directly controls not only the SLBM development but also a manufacture (sic) of a powerful nuclear-powered submarine based on our way,” the media added.A North Korean expert specialized in marine forces pointed out the North can deploy its SLBM like the pro-North media maintained.“(North Korea) finished overhauling most of the processes (in the development of SLMB) and entered the stage of completion judging from the projectile flying 500 km,” Moon Keun-sik, the director of the Korea Defense and Security Forum (KODEF), told NK News.Regarding ballistic-missile capability, the North’s ‘Pukkuksong-1’ SLBM is believed to be developed based on the Russian-designed R-27 SLBM, also known by its NATO reporting name SS-N-6. The North is known to have obtained an R-27 SLBM in the 1990s, according to Moon.“The technologies the North has pursued from last (year) till this year are all about whether it can eject the missile from underwater and launch the missile from a submarine,” Moon said.It is also feasible that the North can build a 3,000-ton submarine, which can launch three projectiles, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported quoting the Tokyo Sinmun. However, the North is able to launch only one projectile from the current submarine.Moon said that Kim Jong Un put all-out efforts into the SLBM development because it was the safest and strongest way to carry nuclear weapons among three delivery systems including intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and strategic bomber.An “ICBM is a land-based nuclear weapon, and its base is the first target of the enemy in case of contingencies and can be attacked,” Moon said.An “SLBM can always hide…in the water so that (enemies) can’t find the location. It can survive from the enemy’s attacks, and attack in retaliation for the enemy’s ground offensive,” Moon added.