by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Jan 13, 2016
North Korea's "successful" submarine-launched ballistic missile test last month was, in fact, an explosive failure that was not even launched from a submarine, separate expert analyses concluded Wednesday.
The North released a video of the purported December 21 test on Saturday, showing leader Kim Jong-Un -- dressed in a winter coat and fedora hat -- looking on as a missile was launched vertically from underwater and ignited in mid air.
The video then cut to a rocket flying through the clouds.
The footage was almost immediately dismissed as a fake -- digitally manipulated footage of the actual launch and spliced footage from other missile tests to give the impression of a successful outcome.
Analysts at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies said the missile almost certainly blew up after a successful pop-up.
"Although (it) appears to eject successfully... we think that a catastrophic failure occurred at ignition," said Catherine Dill, a research associate at the centre.
North Korea "manipulated the footage in an attempt to obscure this result, but one clip plays for two frames too long. The rocket appears to explode," Dill said.
The outside world has been paying close attention to the North's efforts to acquire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capability which, if fully developed, would take its nuclear strike threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and the potential to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.
The December test was understood to be the third of its kind since May.
A second test in November was also believed to be a failure, with South Korean intelligence reports suggesting the submarine launch vehicle had been badly damaged.
In a separate analysis of the December launch video, experts at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University noted several frames showing what appeared to be a support vessel berthed as little as 50 metres from the launch site.
"That would be dangerously close to a submarine operating at shallow depth for a missile launch. But it would be just about right, and quite necessary, for a submerged barge," aerospace engineer John Schilling wrote on the institute's website 38 North.
"So the test was most likely from a barge, not a submarine," he added.
Whether the test was successful or not, Schilling said it was clear that the North Koreans were intent on developing an SLBM capability and "will presumably get it right eventually".
However, he predicted that developing a fully operational SLBM system would take until 2020.
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|