published : 2023-09-08
North Korea Deploys First Tactical Nuclear Attack Submarine: Reports
Submarine Named After Historic Figure, Hero Kim Kun Ok
North Korea has reportedly deployed its first nuclear attack submarine as part of a fleet that patrols the Sea of Japan, between the Korean peninsula and Japan, state media reported.
Reuters reported that news agency KCNA said Kim Jong Un attended the submarine’s launch ceremony Wednesday.
The North Korean leader said arming the country’s navy with nuclear weapons was a very high priority, promising to send more vessels armed with nuclear weapons to the military branch.
The submarine-launching ceremony heralded the beginning of a new chapter for bolstering up the naval force of the DPRK, according to KCNA.
The submarine has been named after one of the country’s historical figures, Hero Kim Kun OK, and Kim said it will perform as one of the core underwater offensive means of the naval force.
Analysts saw signs in 2016 that at least one new submarine was being built, and in 2019, state media showed Kim inspecting a submarine reportedly built under his 'special attention' for operations off the country’s east coast.
Photos taken of a North Korean shipyard in August 2019 suggested the country could be building a submarine that could potentially be capable of launching a nuclear missile.
In March, North Korea test-fired two 'strategic cruise missiles' from a submarine near Kyongpho Bay off the country’s east coast, confirming the reliability of the weapon system and examining the underwater-to-surface offensive operations of submarine units.
While it is not clear if North Korea has fully developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) or short-range SLBMs and cruise missiles, analysts suggest this would likely be a goal if North Korea intends to resume nuclear testing.
Submarine No. 841 is the first tactical nuclear attack submarine in North Korea's large submarine fleet, with only one known submarine, the experimental ballistic missile submarine 8.24 Yongung, having launched a missile.
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance senior research fellow Tal Inbar posted images of the new submarine, highlighting its potential for several ballistic and cruise missiles.