North Korea appears to be preparing for the roll out of a new 3,000-ton submarine according to South Korean and US intelligence agencies.
The launch of the new submarine is said to now only be a matter of timing, South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported, citing sources.
The report follows satellite imagery analysis published by 38 North, a website that closely follows developments in North Korea. The analysis suggested that a floating dry dock at Sinpho South Shipyard had been repositioned alongside the construction hall’s submarine-launch quay, presumably in preparation for the roll out of the new submarine.
Romeo-mod (or Sinpo-C) is widely believed to be a modified, 3,000-ton version of the Romeo-class boat it already operates. The Romeo is a Soviet diesel-electric powered submarine design developed in the 1950s.
Should the reports turn out to be accurate, North Korea will have developed the world’s first conventionally-powered boat with the capability to launch submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).
According to intelligence that has so far leaked to the press, the new submarine will be capable of carrying three Pukguksong-3 SLBMs. It should be noted that North Korea unveiled a new variant of the missile, dubbed Pukguksong-4, during a military parade in Pyongyang for the 75th anniversary of the North Korean Workers’ Party in October 2020.
“The authorities assess that North Korea is reviewing the right timing to roll out the submarine for a strategic effect, including maximizing pressure against the United States,” the Yonhap report quoted a source as saying.
Reports on the submarine’s dimensions vary, but the most optimistic estimates say the boat could be up to 80 meters long, have a diameter of 7 meters, and a submerged displacement of around 3,000 tons.
Reports have also indicated that North Korea could well be working on an even bigger submarine design.