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Kim Jong Un’s regime is pursuing an “aggressive schedule” to construct its first operational ballistic missile submarine, an analysis of satellite images indicated as North Korea scoffs at international condemnation and moves to complete its missile and nuclear program.
“The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine — the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine,” the 38 North report said.
It is not clear where North Korea has obtained its ability to create a new class of submarine designed to launch ballistic missiles, but given that the United States has been operating submarines since the American Civil War and other nations in the region, notably Japan and South Korea, have developed state-of-the-art capabilities for their underwater fleets, it is unlikely that the North Korean vessel will pose a huge threat.
South Korean spy agencies fear North Korea may fire an "array of ballistic missiles" before the year's end in a bid to show it's strength and deter the United States and its allies from further interference in Pyongyang's nuke and missile programs.
“The agency is closely following the developments because there is a possibility that North Korea could fire an array of ballistic missiles this year under the name of a satellite launch and peaceful development of space, but in fact to ratchet up its threats against the United States,” lawmakers told reporters. There were no signs that Kim Jong Un planned to carry out a nuclear test since North Korea's last one on Sept. 3, the agency said, though it stressed it “is possible any time.”