Updated: 06/17/2014 11:12 | By Agence France-Presse

N. Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns

North Korea appears to have acquired a sea-based copy of a Russian cruise missile, the latest step in an effort to enhance its maritime strike capability, a US think-tank said Tuesday.


N. Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns

N.Korea appears to have acquired a sea-based copy of a Russian cruise missile, reports say, shown here is an undated image of S.Korea's testings it's own This undated picture released on February 14, 2013 in Seoul by South Korean Defence Ministry shows the test-launch of its new cruise missile being fired from a warship. Two days after North Korea's nuclear test, South Korea flexed its military muscle on Febrary 14, launching air and navy drills and touting a new cruise missile that can hit targets in the North "anywhere, anytime." ---- EDITORS NOTE ---- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / South Korean Defence Ministry" NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS AFP PHOTO / South Korean Defence Ministry - by South Korean Defence Ministry

A state propaganda film disseminated on social media sites, including YouTube, provides a very brief glimpse of the missile being launched from a naval vessel.

Writing on the closely watched 38 North website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said the missile would mark "a new and potentially destabilising addition" to North Korea's military arsenal.

Lewis identified the weapon as a copy of the Russian-produced KH-35 -- a sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile developed during the 1980s and 90s.

Although the range and payload of the KH-35 fall below the threshold set by the Missile Technology Control Regime, any export of cruise missiles to North Korea would be a violation of UN sanctions.

"Although direct sale from Russia seems most likely, it is possible that North Korea obtained them from a third party like Myanmar," said Lewis, who is director for East Asia at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

As well as Myanmar, Russia has exported sea- and land-based cruise missiles to Algeria, India, Vietnam and Venezuela.

"The possibility that North Korea might sell KH-35 technology to others ... is not a happy thought," Lewis said.

The development of the North's conventional weaponry has largely been overshadowed by concerns over its nuclear weapons programmes.

Last month, 38 North published satellite photos showing two new North Korean warships -- the largest it has constructed in 25 years.

The website said the two helicopter-carrying frigates represented an "important wake-up call"  about the effectiveness of sanctions.

The flip-side of the North's naval capability was shown in pictures released Monday by the official KCNA news agency, showing supreme leader Kim Jong-Un riding in the turret of a rusted Romeo-class submarine developed by the Soviets in the 1950s.

"The submarines that our Navy holds are far superior," commented South Korean Defence Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-Seok.

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