WASHINGTON, North Korea attempted to fire a missile from a submarine Saturday morning, failing as the weapon did not make it past the surface of the ocean, according to South Korean officials.
The test is believed to have happened based on debris from a KN-11 missile seen floating on the surface of the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.
“The North appears to have failed in its launch,” the official, who asked not to be identified, told Yonhap News.
South Korean officials told Nikkei that in addition to no evidence the missile cleared the water, there was no indication it left the submarine either as fragments of a safety cover were spotted.
Firing or testing ballistic missiles is a violation of United Nations sanctions against North Korea, however the nation has openly discussed its intention to beef up the size of its navy and develop the ability to launch from underwater.
In May, North Korea touted what it called a successful test launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which made it about 100 meters out of the water. South Korean officials at the time said it appeared more to be an ejection of the missile than a firing.
Despite the failure, analysts are concerned about the idea of North Korea having submarine-launched ballistic missiles because the vessels are difficult to track and submarine-based missile launches take longer to detect. Analysts expect North Korea to start construction on new submarines in the next 12 to 24 months.