Footage released last week by North Korea purporting to show the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) appears to be fake, according to studies by U.S. experts.
In defiance of a U.N. ban, North Korea has said it has ballistic missile technology which would allow it to launch a nuclear warhead from a submarine, though analysis of North Korean state media images casts doubt on the claim.
North Korea released the submarine launch footage after it separately conducted a fourth nuclear weapons test last Wednesday.
North Korean state television aired footage on Friday of the submarine test said to have taken place in December. Unlike a previous SLBM test in May, it was not announced at the time.
South Korea’s military said on Saturday North Korea appeared to have modified the video and edited it with Scud missile footage from 2014 although an official told Reuters the ejection technology might have improved since the May test.
An analysis by the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) shows two frames of video from state media where flames engulf the missile and small parts of its body break away.
“The rocket ejected, began to light, and then failed catastrophically,” Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute’s CNS, said in an email. “North Korea used heavy video editing to cover over this fact.” Read more