Satellite photos ‘strongly suggest’ N. Korea may be building new sub
October 2, 2016
SEOUL, South Korea — Commercial satellite imagery indicates North Korea may be building a new submarine that could launch a ballistic missile, a U.S. think tank says.
The report comes amid mounting concern that the North is making faster-than-expected progress in its weapons programs as it has conducted two atomic tests and several missile launches, including three from a submarine, this year.
38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said satellite images taken on Sept. 24 “strongly suggests” that a new naval construction program is underway at the Sinpo South Shipyard, which is located on the east coast.
A large circular component that’s about 33 feet in diameter outside a recently renovated fabrication hall could be used for the pressure hull of a new submarine, the blog said, although it stressed the evidence is not conclusive and could be related to another construction project.
If the activity is to build a new submarine, it would appear to be larger than the current experimental vessel used in previous tests, it added.
The North test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile in late August that flew about 310 miles but at a high angle, suggesting it could have gone much farther. But experts say the lack of a submarine powerful enough to launch such a weapon is a significant technological challenge.
North Korea has several land-based missiles with a range that puts them in reach of U.S. bases in the region. SLBMs would increase the threat because they’re harder to detect in advance.
email@example.com Twitter: @kimgamel