Kim Jong-un continues to enhance his nuclear arsenal and capabilities despite threats and sanctions from the world’s superpowers.
Unconfirmed reports say that the North Korean dictator might be looking into a new weapon with which to attack his enemies, according to the Washington Times. It’s a nuclear-powered submarine that could be capable of launching his ballistic missiles from anywhere within three years.
The information was released in a Japan-based newspaper, citing an anonymous informant said to be “familiar with the North Korea situation.” The source claims the dictator is constructing a nuclear submarine expected to be deployed in three years. This has not yet been verified by US intelligence sources.
If the claims prove true and Kim Jong-un is indeed looking to build a nuclear submarine, it would prove to be a terrifying addition to his military capabilities. Currently, Kim’s missiles have proven to have limited distance capabilities and have previously experienced malfunctions upon launch.
The security the US would have by being located a considerable distance away would be eliminated with a missile-bearing submarine. In theory, Kim could load the submarine with nuclear-tipped missiles, deploy it to a location much closer to the US, and fire upon US territory. The added concern is that a nuclear-powered submarine would be much quieter than the conventional diesel-electric submarines used by North Korea, making it difficult to detect until it’s too late.
Though the US hasn’t confirmed the existence of the claimed submarine, it has been keeping a much closer watch on North Korea’s naval activity, according to CNN. In early August, the US military noticed what looked like an “ejection test” in the waters off North Korea. Ejection tests determine ways a missile might be launched or “ejected” from the tubes without detonating the payload or starting a fire from the missile’s exhaust.
An analysis by 38 North in May used satellite images to confirm the existence of a stand barge to be used for submarine-launched ballistic missile testing at the North Korean Naval Shipyard of Nampo.
According to the report, these barges are used to test prototype launch tubes and systems that would be used in future submarines. The existence of such testing was pointed to as evidence of North Korea’s interest in a submarine for future ballistic missile launches.
The US has become increasingly concerned by the threat North Korea has posed and seeks to limit Kim’s power. According to a tweet Trump sent yesterday, some of the sanctions have appeared to be working. “I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!”
The White House also issued a statement saying that the US and South Korea were jointly working to limit Kim’s power: “President Trump and President Moon committed to continuing to take steps to strengthen deterrence and defense capabilities, and to maximize economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.”
Analysts believe Kim is hoping to expand his naval might to form a “strategic triad.” A strategic triad is when a country has enough land, air, and naval might to be considered a viable threat to nations that may try to interfere or attack the nation in any way. Considering Kim’s fears of an assassination with an imposed regime change, the supposed pursuit of a strategic triad isn’t unreasonable for the hostile dictator.
If the existence of a nuclear-powered submarine proves true, then it would definitely escalate an already tense situation. Kim would pose a much greater threat as he would be able to attack from anywhere and everywhere with nearly silent submarines. Hopefully this situation will be resolved soon and the threat of nuclear war will begin to fade.