SEOUL — North Korea has launched its first operational “tactical nuclear attack submarine” and assigned it to the fleet that patrols the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, state media said Friday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who attended the launch ceremony Wednesday, said equipping the navy with nuclear weapons was an urgent task and vowed to transfer more submarine and surface ships equipped with tactical nuclear weapons to naval forces, the KCNA news agency reported.
“The submarine launch ceremony marked the beginning of a new chapter for strengthening the DPRK’s naval force,” KCNA said, using the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Submarine No. 841 – named Hero Kim Kun Ok in honor of a North Korean historical figure – will carry out its combat mission as “one of the main offensive submarine assets of the naval force” of Korea North, Kim said.
North Korea plans to upgrade its existing submarines into nuclear-armed attack submarines and accelerate efforts to build nuclear-powered submarines, Kim said.
“Achieving rapid development of our naval forces… is a priority that cannot be delayed given… the enemy’s recent aggressive and military actions,” the North Korean leader said in a statement. speech, apparently referring to the United States and South Korea.
Analysts first spotted signs that at least one new submarine was under construction in 2016, and in 2019, state media showed Kim inspecting an unreleased submarine that had been built under ” its special attention” and which would be operational in the waters off the east coast.
State media at the time did not describe the submarine’s weapons systems or say where or when the inspection took place, but analysts said the new ship’s apparent size indicated that it was designed to carry missiles.
It was not immediately clear which missiles the new submarine would be armed with. North Korea has tested several submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and cruise missiles that can be fired from submarines.
It is also unclear whether North Korea has fully developed the miniaturized nuclear warheads needed to equip such missiles. Analysts say developing smaller nuclear warheads would most likely be a key goal if the North resumes nuclear testing.
North Korea has a large submarine fleet, but only the experimental ballistic missile submarine 8.24 Yongung (August 24 Hero) is known to have launched a missile.
“This is probably aimed at fielding the navalized version of the KN23, which they have recognized as a delivery system for their compact nuclear warhead,” said Ankit Panda of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, citing the short-range SLBM. that the North carried out firing tests.
Tal Inbar, a senior researcher at the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said the submarine’s huge sail appeared to have room for ballistic and cruise missiles.
“It won’t be long before we see him launching missiles,” he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The launch ceremony comes as North Korea prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of its founding on Saturday and follows reports that Kim plans to visit Russia this month to meet President Vladimir Putin and discuss of the supply of weapons to Moscow.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Jakarta on Thursday and called on Beijing to do more as a member of the UN Security Council to confront South Korea’s nuclear threat. North.
North Korea holds ‘tactical nuclear attack’ exercise
North Korea launches missile into sea after US bomber drills
To subscribe to MORE APPLICANT to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 other titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For comments, complaints or inquiries, Contact us.