Pyongyang is continuing to build its first operational ballistic missile submarine, according to a report by the US Korea Institute in Washington, based on satellite photos a naval shipyard on the country’s east coast, Newsweek wrote.
The satellite pictures taken as recently as November 5 show sections of a submarine’s pressure hull at the Sinpo South Shipyard, which indicate that a ballistic missile submarine might currently be under construction there.
According to the website 38 North – a program from the US Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (USKI) — tower cranes have recently been seen moving massive circular objects more than seven meters across around the Sinpo South Shipyard, which is North Korea’s main builder of large submarines.
US intelligence estimates the submarine’s displacement to exceed 2,000 tons and believes that when completed, it will become the largest vessel ever built for the North Korean Navy.
The new submarine is believed to be an advanced version of North Korea’s SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile sub, which had a new launch tube added earlier this year.
READ MORE: Pentagon Detects North Korean Submarine Activity, Ejection Tests — Reports
Last summer, North Korea reportedly conducted a series of submarine-launched ballistic missile ejection tests near the Sinpo shipyard.
The probable presence of a launch canister within the service tower at the missile test stand suggests continued ejection testing of submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which are consistent with the ongoing development of either SLBMs or a new ballistic missile submarine, 38 North wrote.