Looks like North Korea's engineers have been hard at work brushing up on their obsolete Soviet-era technology. Because after acquiring 10 discontinued Soviet subs, everyone's favourite little warmongering-dictatorship-that-could has finally rendered the outdated ballistic vessels seaworthy -- and it only took them 21 years.
According to Yonhap, a South Korean news agency, the submarines were actually first built in 1958, when the Soviet Union began developing Golf-class diesel-electric subs under the name Project 629. Overall, each individual sub was made to carry three liquid-propellant ballistic missiles, one nuclear warhead, and six torpedo tubes.
The subs were actually decommissioned in 1990, a year before the Soviet Union first fell; then in 1993, about ten were allegedly sold to North Korea. Of course, even 20 years later, the hermit country still has a bit of a ways to go. According to Yonhap:
In a move to mount a missile tube on the new vessel, the communist country has carried out dozens of tests both on the ground and at sea, another source said. "According to the analysis of satellite imagery revealed by 38 North, a ground test facility for the SLBM launch has been up and running at the Sinpo shipyard," he said, adding a dozen more tests would be required to perfect the technology.
"It would take one or two years before the North completes the test for the vertical launch of missiles from the sea," said a military source in Seoul, expressing security concerns as Pyongyang has also been working on miniaturizing nuclear warheads for its missiles.
Not to mention the fact that equipping a submarine with ballistic missiles would require Kim Jong-Un to trust the vessel's captain to make deployment calls, requiring the sort of autonomy practically unheard in North Korean affairs.
So while the addition of submarine-launched ballistics missile would certainly give North Korea some disconcerting leverage in nuclear talks, the 50-some-odd-year-old tech still isn't quite there yet. [Yonhap via RT]
Image via KCNA