FEARS are growing that Kim Jong-un may be on the cusp of launching a submarine capable of firing ballistic nuclear missiles — at targets anywhere in the world.
Nuclear weapons experts believe the sheer size of the new sub suggests it is to be designed to carry nukes even though the tyrant promised Donald Trump he had stopped developing them.
Photographs published by the Korean Central News Agency apparently showing Kim inspecting the combat weapon systems of the new submarine.
It is said to have been built under his “special attention”.
The report could potentially signal continued development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile programme.
Kim said: “The operational capacity of a submarine is an important component in national defence of our country bounded on its east and west by sea.”
North Korea has a large submarine fleet but only one known experimental submarine capable of carrying a ballistic missile.
Analysts said the scale of the new submarine suggests it is designed to eventually carry nuclear missiles which it can launch anywhere, bringing most targets in the world within range.
Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said: “We can clearly see that it is a massive submarine — much larger than the existing one that’s been well known since 2014.
“What I find significant about the political messaging here is that this is the first time since a February 2018 military parade that he has inspected a military system clearly designed to carry and deliver nuclear weapons.
“I take that as an ominous signal that we should be taking Kim Jong-un’s end-of-year deadline for the implementation of a change in US policy with the utmost seriousness.”
This is the first time since a February 2018 military parade that he has inspected a military system clearly designed to carry and deliver nuclear weapons
Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists,
Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said Kim Jong-un was likely also wanted to reassure North Koreans of his commitment to national defence at a time when he is focusing more on the economy.
He said: “Announcing his inspection of the new submarine is also to build internal solidarity, to dispel people’s concerns about national security, reassure them, and boost military morale.”
Most of North Korea’s fleet consists of small coastal submarines, but in recent years it has made rapid progress in the sub missile programme.
In 2016, it successfully test-fired a missile from a submarine.
The location of the shipyard building the sub is unknown.
But in April satellite images showed intense activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard where cylindrical components were spotted.
It is speculated they are bulkheads which will be welded together to form the hull of a large submarine.
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Kim has declared he was stopping on testing IBM’s and nuclear weapons while engaging in decentralisation talks with the United States and South Korea.
The North’s submarine report comes amid another delay in dialogue between the United States and North Korea after Kim and US President Donald Trump agreed at a meeting at the Panmunjom Korean border on June 30 to working-level nuclear talks.
Trump said such talks could come in the following two to three weeks. His national security adviser, John Bolton, arrives in South Korea on Tuesday to meet security officials.
A summit between Trump and Kim, in Vietnam in February, broke down after they failed to narrow differences between a US demand for North Korea’s denuclearisation and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.
In April, Kim said he would wait until the end of the year for the United States to be more flexible.
A close-up of a parts yard shows potential pressure hull components Movement of parts and components observed at parts yards adjacent to construction halls
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