North Korea fires ballistic missile from submarine in new show of defiance

North Korea has test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, according to the South. The missile was launched off the North’s eastern coast and travelled 500km (300 miles) before falling inside Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone. It is the longest flight possible with that type of weapon and brings much of South Korea within its striking distance. Seoul officials condemned the launch as an “armed protest” against the start of annual military drills alongside US forces, which North Korean calls an invasion rehearsal.

While there are still a lot of questions about the details, this test certainly seems to have been successful. This system is still in development, but North Korea is clearly making progress

Jeffrey Lewis, Middlebury Institute of International Studies

One military source said Wednesday’s launch had been made at an acute angle to limit the missile’s range. If fired at the optimum angle, it could cover more than 1,000km, the source said. Earlier, North Korea described the drills, in which 75,000 troops are taking part, as an “unpardonable criminal act”. It has warned that any violation of territorial sovereignty would result in a “pre-emptive nuclear strike”. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff statement said that the North was clearly bent on escalating tensions, adding: “We will deal strongly and sternly with any provocation by the North.”

It is a grave threat to Japan’s security environment. It is an unforgivable, reckless act

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe