Republic of Korea Navy submarine maneuvers during a combined maritime operation in the waters East of the Korean Peninsula. Photo: US Navy/MC2 Will Gaskill via AFP

South Korea has a design for nuke reactor ready if the Moon Jae-in government goes ahead with plans to build a domestically produced nuclear submarine.

The Korea Times quoted military officials as saying earlier this week that a preliminary sketch has been drawn up for a 4,000-ton nuclear-powered submarine.

Moon’s government is reportedly negotiating with Washington to build the country’s own nuclear-powered submarines in response to an evolving North Korean nuclear threat.

The officials said scientists at the Agency for Defense Development, which is under the wing of the Ministry of National Defense, completed the design for a nuclear reactor three years ago.

The Korea Times says this indicates the military is ready to create a nuclear submarine prototype if the Moon government finishes negotiating with the US.

“The country is virtually ready to work on the detailed design of the reactor and make it once relevant policies are finalized,” an official said. “Production is estimated to take three to five years. It will require consent from the US on having South Korea use uranium enriched up to 20 percent as the source for the submarine’s reactor.”