Pyongyang says it has nuclear-tipped missiles which are capable of being fired underwater. State media descriptions have said it has ten total missile launch tubes, with four bigger than the others.
The sub will next undergo sea trials. “We are full of determination to continue to further demonstrate how advanced our submarines and surface shops are, and we will continue [the process of] rearming our fleet with nuclear weapons,” the Voice of Korea quoted Kim as saying.
Kim touted that the vessel is “equipped with a large number of nuclear delivery means” and capable of “preemptive and retaliatory strikes against hostile countries” – in words no doubt aimed at his archenemies the United States and South Korea.
He also unveiled plans to turn all of the nation’s medium-sized subs into nuclear-capable versions, amid rising nuclear tensions and rhetoric with Washington, given that the US has parked its own nuclear-armed sub off South Korea this summer. The USS Kentucky recently docked in Busan port – a first for a US nuclear sub since 1981.
According to the maritime monitoring site Naval News:
The modification to the Romeo class submarine is so extensive that it almost appears to be a new boat. The new missile compartment, with two rows of five missile hatches, is in a section built into the sail. The bow has been shortened, reshaped and the diving planes moved to the sail.
We can speculate that the missiles are the Pukguksong family of submarine launched ballistic missiles. These are between 9.7 and 10.6 meters long and 1.5 and 1.8 meters in diameter depending on the exact version. The missile hatches however appear smaller, either for a shorter ranged ballistic missile first seen in October 2021, or for a cruise missile. North Korea has recently shown the ‘Hwasal-2′ cruise missile which approximates the U.S. Navy’s famous Tomahawk weapon.