This handout photo taken on Aug 13, 2021 and provided by the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s Defense Ministry on Sept 7, 2021 shows the locally-developed, diesel-powered 3,000-tonne Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine during its commissioning ceremony on the southern island of Geoje, ROK. (HANDOUT / SOUTH KOREAN DEFENSE MINISTRY / AFP)
The Republic of Korea (ROK) successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Wednesday, becoming the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system as it aims to better counter the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
ROK's missile test came the same day as DPRK fired a pair of ballistic missiles off its east coast.
ROK President Moon Jae-in attended an underwater ejection test of the SLBM aboard the new 3,000 ton class Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine commissioned last month, his office said.
Possessing a SLBM has significant meaning in securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats, and it is expected to play a key role in building self-defense capability and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Office of ROK President Moon Jae-in
DPRK has unveiled a series of its own SLBMs in recent years, and is building an operational submarine to deploy them, ROK officials have said.
"Possessing a SLBM has significant meaning in securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats, and it is expected to play a key role in building self-defense capability and peace on the Korean Peninsula," Moon's office said in a statement.
Officials did not elaborate on the SLBM's specifications, but the Yonhap news agency has reported it has been codenamed the Hyunmoo 4-4 as a variant of the country's Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile, which can travel about 500 km.
The unveiling of the SLBM comes after the defense ministry and military had for years declined to confirm the program, citing security and intelligence concerns.
The military has developed other new missiles, including a supersonic cruise missile to be deployed in the near future, and a new ballistic missile that has "overwhelming counterattack capability" by firing a larger warhead, Moon's office said.
It added that the military in July successfully carried out a fire test of a solid fuel propulsion system to be used for space vehicles.
ROK has also been striving to develop solid-fuel rocket engines under a plan to launch a military spy satellite by the late 2020s.
ROK has been seeking to develop increasingly powerful missiles, propelled by the end of joint missile guidelines with the United States, which Moon and President Joe Biden agreed during a summit in May.
The missiles are intended to wean ROK off a military reliance on the United States, which stations some 28,500 troops and cutting-edge strategic and conventional military systems in ROK.
This month, the defense ministry released its blueprint for "with significantly enhanced destructive power".
HONG KONG NEWS