United Nations Condemns North Korean SLBM Launch

Michael Song, April 25, 2016, 8:32 a.m.

The U.N. Security Council on Sunday condemned North Korea’s recent submarine-launched ballistic missile test, which experts say demonstrated some level of success. In a press statement, the council said the launch was “yet another serious violation” of the UNSC resolution which bans the communist country from any ballistic missile or nuclear programs. 

Pyongyang claimed Saturday’s SLBM to be a success, although the South Korean military downplayed it, citing that it flew only 30 kilometers. The minimum known range for the country’s KN-11 SLBM is 300 kilometers. “Members of the Security Council emphasized that the DPRK’s (North Korea’s) development and testing of new ballistic missile capabilities, even if launches are failures, is clearly prohibited by these resolutions,” the UNSC said. 

The council expressed concern about how the missile activities would lead to rising tension in the region, and vowed that its members will continue to closely monitor the situation and take “further significant measures in line with the council’s previously expressed determination.” Inter-Korea tensions have been riding high on the North’s nuclear tests, long-range rocket launch and its leader Kim Jong-un’s demonstration of the country’s arsenal. 

“The UNSC statement is significant in that it views the missile activities as contributing to the North’s development of nuclear weapons delivery systems, subsequently leading to rising tension in the (Northeast Asia) region. ... UNSC members, including China and Russia, have severely warned North Korea on its continued acts of provocation,” said Seoul’s Foreign Ministry on Monday. 

It stressed that China, Pyongyang’s sole major trading partner, has played a key role in adopting the statement. Saturday’s launch, while far from Kim’s boastful claims of “complete success,” illustrated some progress that left observers on edge. The most notable aspect was that it seems to have been launched from a submarine, albeit at a much shallower depth than deemed significant. It also demonstrated Pyongyang’s ability to “cold launch,” which refers to a missile being expelled and then igniting midair, considered crucial in submarine launches.

While military officials had initially labeled it “a failure” for its very short flight, some officials said it was “half successful,” as the ejection of the projectile itself at the very least seemed to have succeeded. But aside from the ejection, the missile never entered its normal trajectory to be considered a successful launch. In addition, the 2,000-ton Sinpo-class submarine that it was launched from is considered too small to be used for firing a ballistic missile.



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