North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended what North Korean officials say was the launch of a “tactical nuclear attack submarine” on Friday. And he showed up to the celebration wearing a bright suit, sun hat, and wide smile.
North Korea state media reported that the submarine is meant to patrol the waters between Korea and Japan. Kim told event attendees that giving the North Korean Navy access to nuclear weapons was a priority.
If it can operate successfully, this submarine will be the first of its kind for North Korea, according to David Schmerler, a weapons expert with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
“This would, if sea trials are successfully completed, be their first non-test platform ballistic missile submarine,” Schmerler told The Washington Post.
However, some experts say the submarine will likely not function as advertised.
“As a platform, it will have some fundamental limitations and vulnerabilities,” Joseph Dempsey, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the BBC.
Yang Uk, a weapons expert at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, told The New York Times that the submarine will likely have issues with “stealthiness and maneuverability.”
“Still, the design reflects Kim Jong Un’s policy of increasing his nuclear force ‘exponentially,'” Yang said.