North Korea On 'Aggressive Schedule' To Build Ballistic Missile Submarine

38 North said a prototype submarine and submersible missile test stand barge appear ready to be put to sea at any time, but it stressed that "there are no activities suggesting" a test was imminent.

38 North, a Washington-based project that monitors North Korea, said satellite images indicated the regime was aggressively pursuing a ballistic missile submarine. Recent images taken on November 5 shows that North Korea is actively building a new submarine, the SINPO-C.

"The presence of what appear to be sections of a submarine's pressure hull in the yards suggests construction of a new submarine, possibly the SINPO-C ballistic missile submarine (SSB) - the follow-on to the current SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA)". But Mark Fitzpatrick, a veteran arms control expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the BBC that submarine-launched missiles would give North Korea a second-strike capability if it faced an attack meant to take out its nuclear forces.

Satellite images show a continued movement throughout 2017 of parts and components into and out of yards adjacent to the shipyard's large construction halls.

Speculations of the ballistic submarine construction have been under scrutiny by USA intelligence in recent weeks, according to a report by The Diplomat. It also replicates how a missile would be launched from a submarine's hull.

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The findings, which were posted on the website Thursday, also noted a probable launch canister at the missile test stand, suggesting ongoing ejection testing.

"Clearly, while diplomacy must be the main effort with North Korea, it has to be diplomacy backed by credible military power", Harris said at the beginning of his meeting with Onodera.

North Korea is trying to build its first first operational ballistic missile submarine. The past two months have seen a relative lull and it has not tested a missile since firing one over Japan on September 15.

In recent months, it has fired two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test, stoking regional tension.

Another article in The Diplomat last month quoted a US government source as saying that North Korea had tested a new solid fuel engine sometime between October 15 and October 21. His agenda included strengthening Japan's missile defense capability and purchasing more USA -made missile defense systems.

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