Johns Hopkins University’s U.S.-Korea Institute published an analysis about North Korea’s capability to build a ballistic missile submarine on January 8, well ahead of Saturday’s report of an apparently successful sub-launched missile test by Pyongyang. The analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. appeared in the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies publication 38th North.

“Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that the conning tower of a new North Korean submarine first seen in July 2014 houses 1-2 possible vertical launch tubes for either ballistic or cruise missiles. The boat could serve as an experimental test bed for land-attack missile technology, which if successful, may be integrated into a new class of submarines. In addition, imagery over the past six months indicates that North Korea has been upgrading facilities at the Sinpo South Shipyard in preparation for a significant naval construction program, possibly related to submarine development.

North Korea’s development of a submarine-launched missile capability would eventually expand Pyongyang’s threat to South Korea, Japan and US bases in East Asia, also complicating regional missile defense planning, deployment and operations. Submarines carrying land-attack missiles would be challenging to locate and track, would be mobile assets able to attack from any direction, and could operate at significant distances from the Korean peninsula … ” Read more

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