Satellite images suggest North Korea is on an 'aggressive schedule' to build a ballistic missile submarine

North Korea is on an “aggressive schedule” to build and deploy its first ballistic missile submarine, satellite imagery has suggested.

Images suggest that work is underway at the Sinpo South Shipyard to build a new submarine, according to 38 North, which carries out analysis on North Korea.

The institute, based in Washington, posted the satellite images on its website.

Satellite – images from November 5 show activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard that suggest work is underway to build a new submarine (Picture: DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)

It said: “Commercial satellite imagery of the Sinpo South Shipyard from November 5 indicates that North Korea is on an aggressive schedule to build and deploy its first operational ballistic missile submarine.

“The continued movement of parts and components into and out of the parts yards adjacent to the construction halls indicates an ongoing shipbuilding program.”

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According to 38 North, the presence of what appeared to be sections of a submarine’s pressure hull in the yards suggests a new submarine was being built – possibly a SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine (SSB), the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA).

It said throughout 2017 there had been continued movement of parts and components in and out of two parts yards next to the constructions halls in the centre of the shipyard, as well as movement of the gantry and tower cranes that service the yards.

Prolonged activity – according to 38 North, there has been activity throughout 2017

“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),” it added.

In September the UK’s leading defence think tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) found that the likelihood of war with North Korea had increased markedly thanks to the rapid nuclear advances by Kim Jong-un’s regime and the Trump administration’s position that ‘classical deterrence theory’ is no longer working.

(Top picture: Reuters)

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