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U.S. monitoring ‘highly unusual’ North Korean submarine activity

The test comes on the heels of two test-launched by North Korea of ballistic missiles believed to have the range to strike much of the United States

(National SentinelDefense: As tensions remain high between North Korea and the United States, the military has been tracking and monitoring what the Pentagon is describing “highly unusual” submarine activity from Pyongyang.

Included in that activity is an “ejection test” — that is, the examination of a missile’s “cold launch” system, using steam pressure to catapult a missile out of its launch chamber before its rocket engages. Such systems are inherent on submarines, to prevent damage to the vessel from the missile’s fiery ignition.

The test comes on the heels of two test-launched by North Korea of ballistic missiles believed to have the range to strike much of the United States. CNN reported further:

Carried out on land at Sinpo Naval Shipyard, Sunday’s ejection test is the third time this month — and fourth this year — that North Korea has conducted a trial of the missile component that is critical to developing submarine launch capabilities, according to the US defense official.

Coupled with reports of increased submarine activity, news of another ejection test comes amid concerns over North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have the range to hit major US cities on Friday.

Experts believe if Friday’s test had been fired on a flatter, standard trajectory, it could have threatened cities like Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago.

During his second full Cabinet meeting, Trump told reporters that the U.S. was monitoring North Korean military activity carefully. Without offering specifics, the president noted the U.S. could and would take care of North Korea if/when it became necessary to do so.

“We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” he said in response to a question from one reporter about U.S. strategy.

When asked if the U.S. was considering a pre-emptive strike against North Korea — a stupid question, really, given the fact that the president would never reveal such details — White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders nevertheless said that “all options are on the table.”

Current U.S. assessments are that North Korea’s sub-launched missile capabilities are in the early stages of development. But given Pyongyang’s rapid development of its ICBM capability in just the past few years, that assessment could also be off by months or even years.

CNN reported earlier this month that North Korea had sent a diesel-powered Romeo Class sub on an unprecedented patrol and had been outfitting its Gorae Sub with a possible missile launch demonstration tube.

Two US defense officials told CNN at the time that the North Korean Romeo-class submarine was engaged in “unusual deployment activity” in the waters off the coast of Japan and was patrolling farther that it has ever gone, sailing some 100 kilometers out to sea in international waters.

The submarine’s activity was different than the typical training activity usually observed closer to shore, according to the officials.

North Korea has test-fired a submarine-launched missile. In August 2016, NationalSecurity.news reported:

North Korea launched another ballistic missile from one of its submarines this week that flew about 310 miles, marking the longest distance thus far for such a weapon, Seoul officials said, which puts all of South Korea and perhaps parts of Japan within range.

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