The US says images released by North Korea to back up its claims of a successful submarine missile launch were doctored, adding that Pyongyang is years away from the technology required to pull off such a feat.
North Korea’s May 9 missile launch announcement heightened tensions on the peninsula ahead of John Kerry’s visit earlier this week, when he accused the Kim Jong-un regime of unleashing “stories of grotesque, grisly, horrendous public displays of executions”.
However, analysts and defence officials in the US says there is little cause for concern, insisting North Korea’s Photoshop prowess far outweighs its weapon-building skills and that a successful underwater test-fire is still “many years” away.
“They have not gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe,” U.S. Admiral James Winnefeld told an audience at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies in Washington on Tuesday.
Reuters reports that it has seen analysis that suggest the “photos of the launch were ‘strongly modified’, including reflections of the missile exhaust flame in the water which did not line up with the missile itself.”
South Korea, however, stood by its position that the photos appeared authentic.
“We haven’t changed our stance that the rocket was fired from a submarine and flew about 150 meters out of the water,” a South Korean military official said.
The US’s offhand dismissal of North Korea’s military might has not stopped Pyongyang making more lofty claims this week. On Wednesday, it claimed that it has developed the technology to miniaturise nuclear weapons.
“It is long since the DPRK’s nuclear striking means have entered the stage of producing smaller nukes and diversifying them,” a spokesman for North Korea’s National Defense Commission said, according to Yonhap. Similar claims in the past have been quickly dismissed by analysts.
North Korea has long had a tense relationship with the US, and regularly threatens to destroy it.