N Korea building new submarine
RECENT satellite imagery suggests North Korea may be building a new, larger submarine for ballistic missiles, a US think tank has said, as the isolated state pushes its nuclear weapons program.
The news comes after the North in August test-fired a submarine-launched missile (SLBM) 500 kilometres (310 miles) toward Japan, which leader Kim Jong-Un said put the US mainland and the Pacific within striking range.
“Commercial satellite imagery strongly suggests that a naval construction program is underway at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard, possibly to build a new submarine,” the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its closely watched website, 38 North.
“If this activity is indeed to build a new submarine, it would appear to be larger than North Korea’s GORAEclass experimental ballistic missile submarine, which has a beam of approximately 7 metres [23 feet].”
Analysts say that while Pyongyang has made faster progress in its SLBM system than originally expected, it is still years away from deployment.
A proven SLBM system would take North Korea’s nuclear strike threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a “second-strike” capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.
South Korea’s military authorities believe Pyongyang is eyeing a submarine capable of carrying multiple SLBMs, to replace an existing experimental submarine used for the August test.
North Korea is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology, but this year alone it has test-fired more than 20 missiles and carried out two nuclear tests.
The North has also successfully ground tested a new, high-powered rocket engine, a move designed to showcase its progress toward being able to target the US east coast. –