To counter the growing dominance of the US and its Asian Allies, North Korea is striving to equip its armed forces with advanced technology and develop a nuclear-powered naval force.
In this regard, North Korea launched its first nuclear attack submarine, Submarine No 841, called Hero Kim Kun Ok, after a renowned historical figure.
The launching ceremony was held on Wednesday, and the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, oversaw the entire event, per Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The sub is designed to launch tactical nuclear weapons from under the sea and heralds the beginning of a new chapter for the Naval forces of North Korea, the KCNA stated.
It is unknown how many missiles the sub can carry and fire; however, experts have analysed photos released by state media and concluded that it could load and fire around 10 of Pukgoksong-3 weapons.
Robert Kelly, an international relations professor at Pusan University in South Korea, said that much remains unknown, though the main feature is the propulsion system. If it is loud, then the sub would be easy to locate.
Official pictures of the ceremony suggested it was a joyous occasion with elaborate decoration and confetti, women dressed in Korean hanbok, holding flags and showering flowers on the top leader as walked on the red carpet.
The submarine, Hero Kim Kun Ok, would operate between the Korean Peninsula and Japan and conduct its combat mission as “one of the core underwater offensive means of the naval force” of North Korea, added Kim.
He also said that North Korea would convert its existing submarines into nuclear-powered ones to counter the US and its allies in the region, especially its neighbour South Korea.
A U.S. nuclear-ballistic missile submarine arrived in South Korea in July for the first time since the 1980s, raising North Korean insecurities.
The rapid development of the North Korean naval forces is a priority which cannot be delayed given the enemies’ recent aggressive manoeuvres and military activities in the region, Kim said, referring mainly to the U.S. and South Korea.
Though Kim thinks highly of this sub, some experts are sceptical of it and state that this underlines how North Korean people are suffering at the hands of Kim.
UN human rights chief Volker Turk spoke about how the diversion of resources to upscale the armed forces was affecting the people of North Korea, stating that many were sleeping hungry.
Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul, told Al Jazeera that if a conflict were to arise, nobody would want to be a part of this Submarine’s crew as its nuclear power is a bluff. He referred to the sub as a loud and slow boat that could easily sink when it left the port.
North Korea has tested many weapons in the past few years, including its submarine-launched ballistic missile or SLBM. Kim aims to rapidly modernise the country’s military to match the global advancements in maritime technologies.
The country is restricted from carrying out ballistic missile tests under UN sanctions.
Per reports, early signs of the construction of a new sub were observed in 2016 and 2019. State Media highlighted Kim inspecting a ship being built under his supervision to be deployed in the waters off the east coast.
North Korea has 70-90 diesel-powered submarines, but they are old and obsolete, capable of launching torpedoes and mines, not missiles.
Only the ballistic missile submarine 8.24 Yongung is known to have launched a missile.
A Chinese delegation will arrive in North Korea today as the nation is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding day tomorrow, i.e. Saturday, with great pomp and show.
The U.S. has said that Kim is preparing to travel to Russia by September end to meet President Vladimir Putin.
This meeting will discuss the supply of North Korean weapons to Russia since Moscow’s coffins have run dry due to its occupation of Ukraine, per reports of U.S. Intelligence.
North Korea seeks food and energy aid, including advanced weapons technologies for nuclear-powered subs from Russia.
References: Aljazeera, Livemint, The Hindu
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