North Korea had a “plan to remodel existing medium-sized submarines into offensive ones loaded with tactical nuclear weapons to play an important role in the modern warfare,” state media quoted Kim as saying. He described the approach as a “low-cost ultra-modernization strategy.”
The claim was impossible to immediately verify, and North Korea has a track record of boasting about achievements it has not quite attained. But with both its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, it has surprised analysts by overcoming technical challenges to eventually demonstrate credible and operational weapons systems.
NK News, a specialist website based in Seoul, said that the submarine unveiled on Friday appeared to be the one Kim publicly inspected in July 2019 while it was undergoing construction, which was a conversion from an existing Romeo-class submarine.
The submarine was named the Hero Kim Kun Ok and would “perform its combat mission as one of the core underwater offensive means of the naval force,” North Korean state media said.
It was launched to celebrate a day known in North Korea as the Day of the Foundation of the Republic, marked on Sept 9.