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North Korea claims ballistic missile launch from submarine

North Korea says it has fired a new submarine-based ballistic missile, in a test operation personally overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un. There was no confirmation of the test, which would violate UN resolutions.

North Korea said on Saturday that it had successfully test-fired a submarine-based ballistic missile, with Pyongyang described the operation as an "eye-opening success."

Leader Kim Jong-Un was said to have personally overseen the test, the official KCNA news agency said.

The operation was carried out by a sub that dived to launch depth on the sounding of a combat alarm. "After a while, the ballistic missile soared into the sky from underwater," the agency said.

Kim was reported to said North Korea now possessed a "world-level strategic weapon capable of striking and wiping out in any waters the hostile forces infringing upon (North Korea's) sovereignty and dignity."

Such a development would represent a major step in the country's

attempts to develop a nuclear weapon

, allowing it to deploy weapons far beyond the Korea peninsula. A submarine-based nuclear capacity would also give the country a second-strike capability if attacked on home soil.

Kim Jong-Un's personal initiative

KCNA claimed the weapon had been developed on the personal initiative of Kim Jong-Un. There were no details about the missile's size or range, and it did not specify when the test was carried out.

A US research institute said in January that such a capability posed a potential new threat to South Korea, Japan and US bases in East Asia. Pyongyang's ageing fleet of submarines are believed to be vulnerable to attack, although satellite images earlier this year showed the conning tower of what appeared to be a new North Korea submarine complete with launch tubes.

North Korea compared the test to the successful launch of a satellite into orbit in 2012. That launch was condemned by the international community and led to a tightening of international sanctions against North Korea.

rc/gsw (AFP, AP)

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