As part of its overall plan to build a credible nuclear deterrent, North Korea is said to be working on an upgraded variant to its Sinpo-class submarine that will be capable of launching nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
An operational ballistic missile submarine would give Pyongyang two of the three legs of the nuclear triad deterrent — land- and sea-launched capabilities. The North would only need to acquire reasonably modern bomber aircraft to complete the triad, though it’s not at all clear that Pyongyang can afford to build the infrastructure necessary to construct a survival triad.
Still, a sub-launch capability gives Pyongyang a lot more strike options and better survivability:
“Satellite images taken this month of a North Korean naval shipyard indicate Pyongyang is pursuing an ‘aggressive schedule’ to build its first operational ballistic missile submarine.
“Washington-based 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, cited images taken on Nov. 5 showing activity at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard.
“‘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,’ 38 North said in a report.
Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 2: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints?
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