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, 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 on Tuesday.

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