Following reports that North Korea conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test on Saturday but failed, the chief nuclear envoys of the United States, South Korea and Japan are set to hold a meeting this week in Washington to discuss issues related to Pyongyang. The meeting, scheduled to be held Thursday, follows a previous gathering of the chief nuclear envoys from the three countries in May.
The meeting will be attended by U.S. Special Representative for North Korea policy Ambassador Sung Kim, his South Korean counterpart Hwang Joon-kook and Japanese counterpart Kimihiro Ishikane. The officials will “exchange views on a wide range of issues related to the North," the U.S. Department of State said in a statement, adding: “These discussions reflect the close cooperation among our three countries and our continued focus on pursuing the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”
The launch of North Korea’s SLBM was captured by South Korean surveillance on Saturday, UPI reported, but the test was considered failed only because the missile could not be traced. "There is no identification of a missile taking flight and only fragments of a safety cover was observed so it's highly likely that the launch was a misfire," a South Korean government official reportedly said.
It comes on the heels of another SLBM test conducted by Pyongyang in May, which North Korea called a success but the claim could not be independently verified. Many experts said that the missile could have been launched from a specially designed submerged barge and not from a submarine, and even questioned the photographs released by Pyongyang. However, Seoul believes that the rocket was fired from a submarine and flew nearly 150 meters out of the water.
North Korea has repeatedly defied the United Nations sanctions by carrying out missile tests. The reclusive country is also believed to be working on a nuclear device that can be mounted on a ballistic missile. Experts, however, say that Pyongyang still needs months to develop the perfect technology to do so.