SEOUL—North Korea is thought to be developing a new submarine capable of launching nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, a senior South Korean lawmaker said, signaling an increased threat to U.S. and allied forces while raising doubts about the regime’s pledges to disarm.
Evidence gathered by South Korea’s military suggests Pyongyang is working on the submarine on its east coast, said Kim Hack-yong, who chaired the legislature’s defense committee until his term ended a few weeks ago. Kim, who belongs to a conservative opposition party that is skeptical of dialogue with Pyongyang, cited intelligence provided last week by defense officials.
Satellite imagery reviewed by South Korean intelligence officials showed the movement of laborers and materials at the port of Sinpo, where the submarine appears to be under construction at an indoor facility, an aide to Kim said.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said he couldn’t comment on details pertaining to intelligence activities but stressed that Seoul and Washington continue to monitor North Korea’s military facilities.
North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missile program was first publicized in 2014. North Korea is believed to have undertaken four to six test launches of its SLBM model known as the KN 11. The test firing of a missile in 2016 that traveled 300 miles signaled that the program was progressing.