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The naval forces of North Korea replenished with the first “tactical nuclear attack submarine”

North Korea launched a new “tactical nuclear submarine”, state media KCNA reported on Friday.

Leading the opening ceremony Wednesday, Kim Jong Un called the submarine a part of a “push forward to equip the Navy with nuclear weapons.” Launched submarine No. 841 is named the Hero Kim Kun Ok. The event marked the beginning of a new chapter in strengthening the naval forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, according to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“The submarine will perform its combat mission as one of core underwater offensive means of the naval force of the DPRK.”

Kim also announced that existing submarines will be turned into attack warships equipped with nuclear weapons.

The North Korean leader inspected the submarine during its preparation for a test cruise to familiarise himself with its weapons system and underwater operation capabilities. During the launch ceremony, Kim stressed the “the strategic and tactical plan to continuously enhance the modernity of underwater and surface forces,” KCNA reported.

North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year. Last month, an attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit ended in failure.

In response, Seoul and Washington have stepped up defence cooperation. The countries have organised joint military exercises using modern stealth aircraft and strategic means of the United States. In addition, the DPRK conducted naval exercises with Japan.

The American analytical center Nuclear Threat Initiative reported that North Korea had at its disposal presumably from 64 to 86 submarines, which made the country’s fleet one of the largest in the world. However, NTI also noted that not all combat vessels could be operational due to their age.

Earlier, the state media had already shown Kim Jong Un inspecting another submarine. Joseph Dempsey, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, reports that the recently demonstrated nuclear submarine represents an improved model of the vessel shown in 2019.

“While North Korea has added a missile compartment and externally emulated more contemporary design features… (the sub) at its core is an obsolete Romeo class diesel-electric boat, originally designed in the 1950s.”

US-based analyst Ankit Panda noted that although the capabilities of the new submarine are not revolutionary, the nuclear threat posed by North Korea will increase.

“Kim Jong Un early in his tenure indicated that he viewed the Korean People’s Navy’s role as significant and he’s intermittently focused on indicating that publicly.”

South Korea condemned the submarine launch.

Kim In-ae, deputy spokesperson of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said that North Korea, instead of paying attention to the “life difficulties” of its people, was developing weapons.

“Pyongyang must realise its weapons programmes and threats… only puts their security at risk in the face of an overwhelming response from the strengthened South Korea-US-Japan joint posture.”

KCNA reported that the launch of the submarine was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the founding of the country, which falls on Saturday and was to be marked by celebrations, including a paramilitary parade.


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