SEOUL, 9th July 2016 (WAM) — North Korea on Saturday fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off its east coast on Saturday, but the missile failed in its initial flight stage, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The missile was fired from a location near the North Korean coastal town of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, at around 11:30 a.m. local time, according to the military.

“The SLBM was ejected from the submarine normally, but (we) estimate the initial flight was unsuccessful,” the JCS said in a brief press release.

“Our military strongly denounces such provocative acts by North Korea,” the JCS noted.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said that the missile likely flew only a few kilometers before exploding in midair.

North Korea’s ballistic missile launches are direct violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including its Musudan missile launches on June 22 and the latest launch, the military said.

Military sources said the latest SLBM appears to have exploded at an altitude of some 10 kilometers after being fired from a submerged 2,000-tonne Sinpo-class submarine.

The missile flew only a few kilometers before the presumed explosion, they said.

South Korea’s military said that North Korea has achieved progress in the initial undersea ejection stage of its SLBM technology.

The North is probably in the flight test stage of its SLBM before it moves to the final test phase that will require the missile to hit targets, the sources said.

The North may be ready to deploy its SLBMs for service in about three years, according to the military.

The latest launch came less than three months after the communist country’s previous SLBM test fire ended in failure.

The sea-based missile, launched on 23rd April from the East Sea, broke into several pieces in mid-flight after flying some 30 kilometers, military officials said.

Saturday’s launch came a day after U.S. and South Korean military officials said they were ready to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea to cope with North Korean threats Seoul and Washington launched formal talks on deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, after North Korea conducted a nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier this year. China, Russia and North Korea all say the THAAD deployment could help U.S. radars spot missiles in their countries.

The deployment decision for THAAD was announced hours after North Korea angrily reacted to new U.S. sanctions on leader Kim Jong Un and 22 top officials and state entities for human rights abuses, with Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry saying such measures were tantamount to declaring war. The North said the sanctions crossed a “red line.” B.I.Min.

WAM/MMYS