North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “aggressively pursuing” his submarine ballistic missile program according to 38 North, a site that tracks and provides analysis on the DPRK. In the business of analyzing satellite images, the analysts must decide from image to image what has taken place, what is missing or added in any one frame.
Analysts have stated that it appears that Kim has been attempting to build a new submarine at the Sinpo south shipyard. Photos of what appear to be pressure hull components were noted, as well as other activities and changes at the shipyard, which lead 38 North to conclude the possible creation of a new submarine, one capable of launching SLBMs. This has been thought to be the case since 2014 in North Korea. They do not appear to have accomplished their goal…yet.
38 North reported,
Throughout 2017 there has been continued movement of parts and components into and out of the two parts yards adjacent to the constructions halls in the center of the shipyard. Accompanying this has been the movement of the gantry and tower cranes that service the yards. These activities suggest a prolonged and ongoing shipbuilding program, which is supported by the fact that the Sinpo South Shipyard has historically been the primary manufacturer of large submarines for the Korean People’s Navy (KPN).
Imagery from November 5 shows two larger circular objects that may be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull. The diameter of the first object is approximately 7.1 meters, while the diameter of the second starts at approximately 7.1 meters and reduces to approximately 6.1 meters. The larger object has what appears to be two internal cross members that could be used to support decks or internal equipment. If these assessments are correct, then the shipbuilding program is for a submarine with a beam broader (in width) than the ROMEO-class attack submarine (6.7 meters)—meaning it is potentially a SINPO-C SSB, the reported follow-on to the SINPO-class SSBA.
Thus far, everything remains berthed at the Sinpo facility. However, earlier in the year, North Korean hackers were accused of stealing the classified blueprints for submarine weapons systems in South Korea.
There are two counties in the world at this point in time that are extremly dangerous to other countries: North Korea and Iran. Iran’s avowed purpose- its stated goal is to destroy both Israel and America, as well as all Western interests. North Korea has made the same kind of statements, about Japan, South Korea, the United States, and anyone else that gets in their way. Iran is a Shi’ite Islamic Theocracy run by a repressive Ayatollah. North Korea is a Communist regime run by a repressive dictator.
The difference? Not much in terms of rhetoric and practice. The main difference is that the rest of the world seems to think Iran is rational and grants them concessions that our President has worked hard to unplug. They are growing in power and influence in certain areas of the Middle East. At least Kim Jong-un is so bad that the rest of the world acknowledges he’s kooky and tries to work with us. At least…we think they are working with us.
Featured photo from KCNA (North Korea Media file photo)