Sun, Oct 02, 2016 - Page 4 News List

North Korea building new submarine: US think tank


An undated photograph released by the North Korean Central News Agency shows an underwater test-fire of a submarine ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea. The country reportedly test-fired what seemed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile in waters east of the Korean Peninsula on July 9.

Photo: EPA

Recent satellite imagery suggests North Korea might 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 North Korea in August test-fired a submarine-launched missile (SLBM) 500km toward Japan, which North Korean 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 under way 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 Web site, 38 North.

“If this activity is indeed to build a new submarine, it would appear to be larger than North Korea’s GORAE-class experimental ballistic missile submarine, which has a beam of approximately 7m,” it said.

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, according to Seoul’s Yonhap news agency.

North Korea is barred under UN resolutions 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.

Its fifth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 9, when Pyongyang detonated what it said was a miniaturized atomic bomb, provoked worldwide condemnation and prompted the UN Security Council to begin work on a new sanctions resolution.

Also this month, North Korea claimed to have successfully ground tested a new, high-powered rocket engine, a move Seoul said was designed to showcase its progress toward being able to target the US east coast.

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