According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea is closely monitoring North Korea’s military moves in coordination with the United States, amid signs of activity at the North’s main shipyard used to develop submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Commercial satellite imagery of the North’s Sinpo Shipyard indicates that a missile canister for the submarine missile test barge has likely been removed, possibly for maintenance or for the replacement of a new canister or launch frame to accommodate larger SLBMs.
The North Korea is also believed to have completed the construction of the new 3,000-ton submarine, unveiled in July 2019, can carry three submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs.. Pyongyang first unveiled the asset in July 2019. The communist country could reveal the submarine at a launching ceremony and actually roll out an SLBM such as the Pukguksong-3.It said the move could indicate that the North’s new ballistic missile submarine “may be nearing completion or is ready to be rolled out and launched in the near future.”
The new submarine is to be a modified Romeo-class based on North Korean media reporting of Kim Jong Un’s site visit in July 2019 to the construction hall to inspect work on it. The submarine is said to be about 80 meters long and 7 meters wide. North Korea is also believed to have been developing a larger-sized submarine that is expected to be equipped with new SLBMs. The U.S. think tank said the North has moved a submersible missile test barge at its missile test site to a different position, possibly indicating an upcoming SLBM test.