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North Korea test-fires ballistic missile from sea

PYONGYANG, North Korea: North Korea has confirmed it test-fired a new type of a ballistic missile, a significant escalation from the short-range tests it has conducted since May.

The missile – which was able to carry a nuclear weapon – was the North’s 11th test this year.

But this one, fired from a platform at sea, was capable of being launched from a submarine.

Being submarine-capable is important as it means North Korea could launch missiles far outside its territory.

South Korean officials said the missile flew about 450 kilometres and reached an altitude of 910 kilometres before landing in the sea. The missile flew twice as high as the International Space Station, but previous North Korean tests have gone higher.

It came down in the Sea of Japan, also known in South Korea as the East Sea. Japan said it landed in its exclusive economic zone – a band of 200 kilometres around Japanese territory.

The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with the US would resume.

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said on Thursday the missile was a Pukguksong-3 test-fired at a high angle, designed to “contain the external threat and bolster self-defence”.

It added there was “no adverse impact on the security of neighbouring countries”.

Unlike previous tests, there were no pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the launch.

In the previous 10 missile tests carried out this year, only short-range projectiles were fired.

Experts said if the missile was launched on a standard trajectory, instead of a vertical one, it could have travelled around 1,900 kilometres. That would have put all of South Korea and Japan within range. Being launched from a submarine can make missiles harder to detect, and allows them to get closer to other targets.

North Korea’s existing Romeo-class submarines, which were built in the 1990s, are believed to have a range of about 7,000 kilometres.

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