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North Korea unveils its first nuclear-armed submarine

North Korea has unveiled its first nuclear-armed submarine and added it to its naval fleet.

North Korea has successfully unveiled and assigned its first tactical nuclear-armed submarine to its naval fleet. The naval fleet patrolling the Korean Peninsula and Japan has acquired the submarine.

North Korea
(Image Source: KCNA/Reuters)

841 is the submarine’s identifying number. It is also named after Hero Kim Kun Ok, a historical figure in North Korea. Leader Kim Jong Un stated that the submarine would be the first underwater offensive force of the Navy.

Analysts state that the submarine appears to be a modified Romeo-class submarine. In the 1970s, North Korea acquired a Soviet-era Submarine from China. North Korea was later able to domestically mass-produce the underwater vessels. The submarine is fitted with missiles and launch tubes.

Former U.S. government weapons expert Vann Van Diepen states that although the submarine is fitted with nuclear arms, it is less effective than the North’s land-based nuclear forces. The vessel’s body is old and utilizes an ageing design. This makes the submarine more noisy and slow, and it has a limited range. The sub may not survive for long during a war.

The submarine will not last long during a battle. The South Korean military states that the vessel does not appear to be battle-ready and that the North has exaggerated its capabilities. 

KCNA reports that Kim has plans to equip the North Korean navy with more missile-armed submarines and surface missiles. Nuclear weapons are a necessity for North Korean forces. 

Nuclear attack submarines of North Korea

A retired South Korean submarine expert claims that since the submarine is classified as tactical, it does not have submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). Cruise missiles are available on the submarine. These missiles are short-range and can hit regional targets such as South Korea, Japan, etc. 

North Korea has only one experimental ballistic missile submarine, i.e., the 8.24 Yongung (August 24 hero). It is the only vessel to have fired a missile.

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