North Korean ballistic missile launches from submarine, explodes

North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine Saturday, but the rocket exploded soon after take-off, the South's military said.

The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was fired off the east coast city of Sinpo Saturday around 11:30 am (0230 GMT), Yonhap News Agency reported, citing Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The SLBM was ejected from the submarine normally, but (we) estimate the initial flight was unsuccessful," the military was quoted as saying in a brief press release.

The missile appeared to have been launched from a submerged 2,000-ton Sinpo-class submarine, before exploding at around 10 kilometres altitude, Yonhap reported, citing unnamed military sources.

Ballistic missile launches are a violation of UN resolutions on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Capacity to launch successfully from a submarine could further extend the effective range of the isolated regime's nuclear weapons.

A launch from a submarine on April 23 also failed when the missile disintegrated after 30 kilometres.

The latest launch may have not been intended to fly further, but may have been a test only of the initial stage flight capability, Yonhap said, citing the military source.

It came a day after Washington and Seoul agreed to install a battery of the US missile defence system in South Korea, with a view to countering ballistic missile launches from North Korea.

Last update: Sat, 09/07/2016 - 11:25

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