Amid rising tensions with North Korea, U.S. officials reported “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of submarine activity by North Korea.
U.S. officials said that that on Sunday, North Korea conducted a test that as part of the process of developing the capability to launch missiles from a submarine, according to CNN.
“Achieving a successful cold-launch ejection test, even from land-based tubes, is a critical step forward in making an operational missile,” said Lance Gatling, a defense analyst and president of Tokyo-based Nexial Research Inc.
“The whole point of putting missiles into a stealthy platform like a submarine is to achieve tactical surprise, and this moves closer to that,” he said.
Officials told CNN there was intense submarine activity in the days before and after the test. In essence, North Korea is putting more submarines at different places in the sea than in the past.
Last month, the U.S. and South Korea monitored the activities of an 1,800-ton submarine that traveled more than 60 miles from the North Korean coast. The submarine entered international waters, something observers said had not been done previously.
The current class of submarines developed by North Korea is expected to be capable of launching nuclear ballistic missiles within three to four years
Writing on National Interest, Kyle Mizokami suggested that submarine warfare “could provide a crude but effective second-strike capability, giving the regime the opportunity to retaliate even in the face of a massive preemptive attack.”
“Although old and obsolete, North Korea’s submarines have the advantage of numbers and, in peacetime, surprise. Pyongyang’s history of armed provocations means the world hasn’t seen the last of her submarine force,” he added.
As North Korea tested its weapons, so did the United States.