North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast on Saturday, South Korea said, amid concerns that the isolated state might conduct a nuclear test or a missile launch ahead of a ruling party meeting in May.
The North fired the missile to the northeast at about 6:30 p.m. (0930 GMT), the South’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
North Korea will hold a congress of its ruling Workers’ Party in early May for the first time in 36 years, at which its leader Kim Jong Un is expected to say the country is a strong military power and a nuclear state.
The missile flew for about 30 km (18 miles), a South Korean Defense Ministry official said by telephone, adding its military was trying to determine whether the launch may have been a failure for unspecified reasons.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the missile flew “for a few minutes,” citing a government source.
The U.S. Strategic Command said it had detected and tracked a North Korean submarine missile launch but it did not pose a threat to North America.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said launches using ballistic missile technology were “a clear violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”