North Korea: Kim Jong Un Unveils First Nuclear-Capable Submarine

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Kim Jong Un Unveils North Korea’s First Nuclear-Capable Submarine

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended a ceremony to unveil the country’s purported first nuclear-capable submarine, named Hero Kim Kun Ok, according to state media reports. The submarine launch is said to enhance North Korea’s nuclear deterrent capabilities significantly. Kim referred to the submarine as a symbol of the country’s formidable power. However, analysts remain skeptical about its effectiveness, believing it to be a modified Soviet-era Romeo-class sub, which has limitations and vulnerabilities.

Questions About Submarine’s Capabilities

Analysts point out that the newly unveiled submarine is believed to have shortcomings such as noise, slow speed, and limited range. It appears that efforts were made to obscure the sub’s true identity, potentially an older vessel. There is uncertainty regarding its operational readiness and its ability to successfully launch nuclear-capable missiles. The submarine is thought to be designed for shorter-range submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) suitable for regional targets.

International Concern and Reactions

South Korea has criticized the submarine’s launch and raised doubts about its capabilities. They suggest that North Korea may be exaggerating the sub’s capabilities. Japan has also expressed unease about North Korea’s military activities, considering them a more significant and immediate threat to regional security. North Korea has continued to conduct tests of ballistic and cruise missiles in recent years, with a notable increase in 2022.

Upcoming Anniversary and Diplomatic Efforts

The unveiling of the submarine precedes the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, which is expected to feature a Chinese delegation in attendance. Additionally, reports suggest that Kim Jong Un is planning a visit to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, raising concerns about potential technology exchanges between North Korea and Moscow.

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