Friday, January 23, 2015
Looks like North Korea preparing to put nukes on submarines
Kyle Mizokami, War is Boring, Jan 22
North Korea is attempting to put nuclear weapons to sea, according to a longtime regime watcher.
Joseph Bermudez—an expert on North Korean weapons—believes the evidence is commercial satellite imagery showing a submarine with possibly two vertical launch tubes. The regime also appears to have constructed a test stand for launching sea-based ballistic missiles.
The two revelations may not be directly related.
For one, the vessel might not end up carrying nuclear-capable missiles. But Bermudez’s evidence is highly suggestive. And if the North is planning to put nukes aboard submarines, this would make Kim Jong Un’s atomic arsenal more survivable in case of attack.
In October 2014, Bermudez observed an unidentified submarine at North Korea’s South Sinpo Shipyard. The shipyard conducts research and development for naval weapons and warship construction.
According to Bermudez, the submarine appeared to weigh around 900 to 1,500 tons in displacement. The analyst tentatively nicknamed the still-under-construction vessel the Sinpo, and noted a resemblance to former Yugoslavian submarines.
Intriguingly, satellite imagery from July 2014 revealed an empty space near the conning tower. Pyongyang could install one or two vertically-launched missiles in this space. The shipyard also has a nearby test stand for the development of long-range ballistic missiles.
The stand is “the right size and design to be used for the research, development, and testing of the process of ejecting a missile out of a launch tube as well as evaluating its compatibility with submarines and surface combatants,” Bermudez wrote.
That’s probably not a coincidence.