North Korea SLBMs prompt South to consider nuclear subs

The South Korean government may be looking to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, a possible response to North Korea’s development of submarine-launched ballistic missiles.


Nuclear-powered guided missile submarines capable of launching covert attacks on the enemy, and staying submerged for more than a decade without refueling, can deter North Korea submarine-launched attacks originating from the south or southeast of the peninsula, South Korean newspaper Maeil Business reported.

The currently deployed radar of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD only monitors missiles originating from the north, and South Korea’s Green Pine radar warning system are not sufficient for tracking submarine-launched attacks at sea, according to the report.
A South Korean military source told Maeil Business North Korea is developing submarines because their deployment would give Pyongyang an advantage at sea, even when South Korea deploys “maritime patrol aircraft and destroyers” in areas south of the peninsula.

Moon Geun-sik, a former South Korean Navy captain, said if South Korea acquires nuclear-powered submarines, they could be used to “go after submarines, after hiding near the enemy’s submarine base.”

“Even when the [South’s] submarine is detected, it can maneuver quickly, thus increasing the chances of survival,” Moon said.

North Korea is expected to deploy submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 1-2 years, but South Korea could take about five years to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, according to the report.

By Elizabeth Shim