SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Monday North Korea’s recent test-firing of a submarine-based ballistic missile is a “very serious and concerning matter”, although it also said Pyongyang’s capability with the weapon is at an early stage of development.
Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency said on Saturday North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, oversaw the test-launch of the missile from an offshore location. Such a development could pose a new threat to the isolated country’s neighbors and the United States.
“We urge North Korea to immediately stop developing SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), which hinder the stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia,” Kim Min-seok, spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry, told reporters on Monday.
He said North Korea still needed time to develop additional equipment in order to make its submarine-launched missile system fully operational.
North Korea’s state media often boasts of successful military and space accomplishments, including the launch of a functional communications satellite, which are not independently verified by outside experts.
It is believed to have launched a long-range rocket and put an object into orbit in December 2012, defying scepticism and international warnings not to pursue such a program, which could be used to develop intercontinental missiles.
Reporting by Ju-min Park; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Paul Tait