Washington (CNN) The US military has detected “highly unusual and unprecedented levels” of North Korean submarine activity and evidence of an “ejection test” in the days following Pyongyang’s second intercontinental ballistic missile launch this month, a defense official told CNN on Monday.
An ejection test examines a missile’s “cold-launch system,” which uses high pressure steam to propel a missile out of the launch canister into the air before its engines ignite. That helps prevent flames and heat from the engine from damaging either the submarine, submersible barge or any nearby equipment used to launch the missile.
Carried out on land at Sinpo Naval Shipyard, Sunday’s ejection test is the third time this month — and fourth this year — that North Korea has conducted a trial of the missile component that is critical to developing submarine launch capabilities, according to the US defense official.
Coupled with reports of increased submarine activity, news of another ejection test comes amid concerns over North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have the range to hit major US cities on Friday.
Experts believe if Friday’s test had been fired on a flatter, standard trajectory, it could have threatened cities like Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago.
President Donald Trump told reporters at his second full Cabinet meeting that his administration will be able to take care of North Korea but offered no specifics about what he plans to do.
“We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything,” Trump said after a reporter asked him about his strategy.
Asked if the US would strike first, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that “all options are on the table,” adding that Trump would not “broadcast” his decisions.
Democrat Sen. Mark Warner said on “Erin Burnett Out Front” Monday that Trump showed “enormous naiveté” by suggesting the nuclear threat from North Korea could be handled so simply.