North Korea may be about to launch a ballistic missile submarine

Satellite images show what appears to be activity in preparation for the launch of a ballistic missile submarine at North Korea’s Sinpo plant.

This image taken by Airbus’ commercial satellite on September 18 shows six barges and logistics vehicles gathered around the jetty outside the fabrication yard of the Sinpo Nam shipyard in eastern North Korea.

Organization 38 North A North Korea-monitoring specialist on Wednesday released an image analysis report, saying it is a sign that Pyongyang may be about to launch another submarine capable of carrying ballistic missiles. “Barges and floating docks occasionally appear around the launching dock, but the appearance of six ships and barges of all kinds at the same time here is an unprecedented move,” the report reads.

Pyongyang has not commented on this report.





Europe launched a submarine at the Sinpo Nam shipyard in a satellite image on September 18.  Photo: Airbus DS.

Europe launched a submarine at the Sinpo Nam shipyard in a satellite image on September 18. Image: Airbus DS.

The move comes amid tense relations between North and South Korea. Pyongyang has this year carried out a series of missile tests with unprecedented frequency, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test off the coast of Sinpo in May.

North Korea’s parliament on September 9 passed a law allowing the country to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike “automatically and immediately to destroy the hostile forces” when another country poses an imminent threat to the North. Tien.

Experts have discovered that North Korea has been building a new submarine since 2016. The country’s media in 2019 published a picture of leader Kim Jong-un inspecting a never-before-seen submarine, saying it was built. under his special watch” and will be deployed in the east coast of the country.

North Korea did not disclose the specifications and types of weapons that the submarine can use, but experts say its size and construction are suitable for ballistic missile submarines.





North Korean leader inspects a new submarine in 2019. Photo: KCNA.

The North Korean leader inspects a new submarine in 2019. Photo: KCNA.

SLBMs have less accuracy and power than intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), but ballistic missile submarines can hide under the sea for a long time to launch a response in the event of North Korea. preemptively attacked. Conventional warhead SLBMs can also be deployed to destroy high-value tactical targets and in fortified bunkers.

North Korea has 70 submarines of all kinds, including one Gorae-class ballistic missile submarine and 20 Project 633 attack submarines. Most of the North Korean submarines are outdated and can only operate close to shore. and difficult to threaten the opponent in the event of a conflict. However, this force will be significantly strengthened if equipped with SLBMs with a range of hundreds of kilometers and modern warheads.

Vu Anh (Theo Reuters)

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