This new class of submarine would be Pyongyang’s first operational ballistic missile sub.
The new submarine, designated Sinpo-C by the US government, was detected by US intelligence. Sinpo-C is assessed as being a diesel-electric powered submarine with a displacement of 2,000 tons and a beam (width) of 36 feet. The submarine will carry at least one and perhaps two or more submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
North Korea currently has one ballistic missile submarine, the Gorae (“Whale”), designated as Sinpo-B by US intelligence. First detected via satellite in 2014, the Gorae displaces 1,700 tons and is capable of launching the Pukguksong-1 missile. The Pukguksong-1 is a two-stage missile with an estimated range of 745 miles. The range is estimated as North Korea has never announced the actual operational range and payload. Gorae appears to have been a test vessel, as there is no evidence that the sub has ever left North Korean waters.
This news comes as North Korea promises to stage an “unimaginable” strike against the US at an unexpected time.
As the South Korean and US navies are staging joint drills in waters off the Korean Peninsula with the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan involved, North Korea’s emergency committee for opposing nuclear war drills condemned the move to mobilize nuclear strategic assets near the peninsula.
“The US is running amok by introducing under our nose the targets we have set as primary ones. The US should expect that it would face unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time,” the agency said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in recent weeks following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and two missile launches over Japan.
Despite North Korean threats to shoot down American planes flying near the Korean Peninsula outside of the country’s airspace border, following a war of words between North Korean and US leaders, the US and South Korean planes are still conducting reconnaissance.
The US are increasing their presence in the region, wary of the fact that the new missile may be able to reach the US West Coast, according to russian lawmaker who returned from a visit to Pyongyang earlier this month. South Korea has been actively looking to increase its defensive capabilities against the North, by letting the US setup Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Systems (THAAD) in the region.