Photographs showing a North Korean missile launched from a submarine were manipulated by state propagandists and the country may be years away from developing such technology, analysts and a top U.S. military official said on Tuesday.

North Korea, sanctioned by the United States and United Nations for its missile and nuclear tests, said on May 9 it had successfully conducted an underwater test-fire of a submarine-launched ballistic missile which, if true, would indicate progress in its pursuit of missile-equipped submarines.

On Wednesday last week, North Korea warned the United States not to challenge its sovereign right to boost military deterrence and boasted of its ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads, a claim it has made before and which has been widely questioned by experts and never verified.

But North Korea is still "many years" from developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles, U.S. Admiral James Winnefeld told an audience at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.

"They have not gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe," said Winnefeld, who is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Analysis seen by Reuters from German aerospace engineers Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker of Schmucker Technologie appeared to support Winnefeld's statement.


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