Report: North Korea could test SLBM ahead of U.S. election

Sept. 10 (UPI) — North Korea could test launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile in the coming months after displaying its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities, according to a South Korean press report.

Pyongyang could engage in provocations after Oct. 10, when the regime is set to observe the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported Thursday, citing South Korean military sources.

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During a planned military parade on the anniversary, North Korea could unveil a new ICBM and draw international attention to its arsenal of weapons capable of reaching the continental United States. The move would be strategic and timed to occur before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3.

North Korea could take its strategy a step further with the test of an SLBM, such as the Pukuguksong-3, to raise tensions with the United States around the time of the November election, the Donga’s source said.

“Both U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials understand the new ICBM represents the ‘final negotiating card’ for North Korea, whether President Donald Trump is re-elected or a new administration takes his place,” the South Korean source said.

According to the Donga, Seoul and Washington believe North Korea’s new ICBM is equipped with a solid fuel engine. It has a stronger thrust than the existing Hwasong-14 or Hwasong-15, the North Korean long-range missiles that use a liquid fuel engine. Recent flights of U.S. spy planes near the Korean Peninsula were conducted in order to determine whether North Korea is to display the new ICBM at the October military parade, the report says.

North Korea policy could change dramatically after November, analysts say.

Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at the Center for the National Interest, said during a video conference with the Korea Press Foundation in Seoul that Trump’s re-election could mean changes in personnel. Trump could pursue disarmament negotiations with North Korea in his second term, but if the talks fail North Korea could pursue more advanced nuclear weapons, Kazianis said, according to South Korean news service Newsis.

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