Kim Jong Un inspects new sub, wants to bolster North Korean militaryJuly 23, 2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday inspected a newly built submarine — days after the rogue regime said it may lift its suspension of nuclear tests to protest expected military exercises between the US and South Korea.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim was briefed about the sub’s operational and tactical data and combat weapon systems.
Kim expressed “great satisfaction” and “stressed the need to steadily and reliably increase the national defense capability, by directing big efforts to the development of naval weapons and equipment, such as submarines,” according to KCNA.
He added that the sub would “soon” be deployed in the waters off the east coast of the country.
“The operational capacity of a submarine is an important component in national defense of our country bounded on its east and west by sea,” Kim said.
KCNA did not say when and where the inspection took place.
The photographs appeared as Washington and Pyongyang work to resume talks after a meeting late last month on the Korean border between Kim and President Trump.
Diplomacy has been stalled since the second summit between the two leaders fell apart in Vietnam in February because of differences over US-led sanctions on North Korea.
North Korea is believed to have a fleet of about 70 submarines, but most are likely old and only one known experimental sub is capable of carrying a ballistic missile.
Analysts said the apparent size of the new submarine suggests it is designed to eventually carry missiles.
“We can clearly see that it is a massive submarine — much larger than the existing one that’s been well known since 2014,” Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the US-based Federation of American Scientists, told Reuters.
“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,” Panda said.
“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,” he added.
North Korea successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile in 2016, according to CNN.
Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the photographs released Tuesday suggest that the new sub is much larger than the one used in 2016.
“If this submarine is built for carrying and launching SLBMs, it is more than likely that they would test it, to ensure that it works the way they would need it to,” Schmerler told CNN.
Kim has declared a moratorium on testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons while engaging in denuclearization talks with the United States and South Korea.
On June 30, Trump and Kim agreed during a meeting at the Panmunjom Korean border to working-level nuclear talks.
National security adviser John Bolton is expected to arrive in South Korea on Tuesday to meet security officials.
With Post wires
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