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North Korea 'building its biggest submarine yet' which Kim Jong-un could use to launch country's nuclear missiles

Mirror logo Mirror 20/10/2017 Toby Meyjes

North Korea is building its biggest submarine to date that could be used to launch nuclear missiles further than ever before, according intelligence sources.

The new submarine is thought to be being built at Sinpo South Shipyard, a site used to equip submarines with ballistic missiles, where satellite images exposed 'ongoing activity' earlier this month.

When fully-operational the Sinpo-C, which will weigh in excess of 2,000 tonnes, could be capable of carrying a new missile - the Pukguksong-3 - which was accidentally revealed in pictures of Kim Jong-un on a factory inspection in August.

The Pukguksong-3 would be the latest addition to North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.

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Reuters

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KCNA

Although its existence is unconfirmed, it's range is thought to be greater than that of the first generation Pukguksong-1 of 745 miles and would therefore pose a greater threat to the secretive state's enemies.

The US intelligence source confirmed to The Diplomat that work was ongoing at the shipyard to construct the submarine as well as ejection tests for new missiles.

But despite increased capability the new submarine would be easily detectable by US and allied anti-submarine forces due to a lack of sophisticated technology, according to Popular Mechanics.

Satellite pictures expose "activity" at North Korean shipyard where submarines are equipped with ballistic missiles

The intelligence source's claims come days after commercial photographs of activity at Sinpo South Shipyard which raised fears Kim iJong-un s working to develop a new range of missiles.

Experts said the aerial images show experimental work on a ballistic missile submarine has been completed after netting previously seen at the site was removed.

The pictures show a barge which is believed could be used to launch an SLBM test has remained in the same position where it was observed last month, according to the 38 North Blog.

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AFP

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Planet/38 North

But North Korean analyst Joseph S. Bermudez Jr said the activity did not reflect an "imminent test" despite "growing concern" over feared plans for a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) drill.

Writing on the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's 38 North blog, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr told the pictures were taken from September 21.

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He said: "While there is growing concern that the North may be planning a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test in the near future, the current imagery does not indicate an imminent test.

"The SINPO-class submarine, submersible test stand barge and nearby test stand, however, appear capable of supporting a test at any time of Pyongyang’s choosing."

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Planet/38 North

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Planet/38 North

In August, military chiefs raised fears North Korea was looking to upgrade its submarine launch system Pukkuksong-1 when Kim was pictured next to designs showing new warheads.

The revelations comes amid growing tensions between the US, its allies and North Korea.

Only last week the US flew two bomber jets over the Korean peninsula despite threats from the Kim Jong-un regime that they will be shot down.

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On Tuesday, six military planes, including two American supersonic B-1B bombers, took part in a drill over the Korean peninsula, according to Yonhap news agency.

The bombers from Guam staged a simulated air-to-ground missile firing drill with two F-15K fighters, according to senior US defence officials.

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Planet/38 North

It was the latest provocation amid heightened tensions between the two states.

Last month, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho accused the United States of having declared war.

In a rare press appearance at the United Nations in New York, he said: "The whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country.

"Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country."

Earlier it emerged North Korean hackers are feared to have stolen a huge haul of classified military documents - including detailed plans revealing what the US and South Korea would do if the countries went to war.

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Getty Images AsiaPac

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AFP

The admission came by a senior lawmaker in South Korea.

Among the plans which Kim Jong-un's regime may now have its hands on are details on key military facilities and contingency plans for the South's special forces.

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Hackers are said to have broken into the Defence Integrated Data Center last year, and several secret files are thought to have been taken.

A statement from Democratic Party Rep Lee Cheol-hee said, Yonhap News reports: "The Ministry of National Defense has yet to find out about the content of 182 gigabytes of the total (stolen) data."

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REUTERS

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AFP

He said 235GB had been taken, and 80 per cent of these have yet to be identified.

Pyongyang has denied responsibility for the cyberattacks, Yonhap reported, criticising Seoul for "fabricating" claims about online attacks.

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Daily Mirror

It comes as it emerged that US President Donald Trump may visit the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea when he visits South Korea next month.

A defence source told Yonhap that the village of Panmunjom and an observation post, both inside the DMZ, were among locations Trump was considering visiting.

The White House has yet to comment on the report.

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