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Update: North Korea launches new ‘nuclear attack submarine'

A TV screen at a railway station in Seoul shows an image of the launch of North Korea's new ‘tactical nuclear attack submarine'. (Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

North Korea has unveiled a new “tactical nuclear attack submarine”, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on 8 September.

The submarine was launched and handed over to the Korean People's Navy (KPN) on 6 September in a ceremony at the Sinpo shipyard on the country's northeast coast that marked the country's 75th founding anniversary and was overseen by leader Kim Jong-un.

The submarine has a hull number of 841 and is named Hero Kim Kun Ok, after a former North Korean naval leader. Kim was reported by KCNA as saying that the submarine would undertake combat missions and be one of the “core underwater offensive means” of the North Korean naval forces.

It is unclear whether the new submarine is fully operational. KCNA images showed the submarine entering the water at the shipyard.

In a speech at the launch ceremony, Kim said North Korea is planning the deployment of additional submarines with similar nuclear-strike capabilities.

He said this project would involve modernising the KPN's existing “medium-sized submarines”, which is a possible reference to the KPN's Romeo-class (Project 033) diesel-electric conventional patrol submarines. Hero Kim Kun Ok is assessed by Janes to be based on the Romeo-class platform, about 20 of which are operated by the KPN.

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