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N. Korea repaired missile-capable submarine before using in latest SLBM launch: sources

North Korea 14:10 May 08, 2022

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- The North Korean submarine that fired a ballistic missile from underwater Saturday was the one that had to be towed ashore due to an engine problem following an earlier missile test-firing in October last year, sources said Sunday.

The North is believed to have repaired the Gorae-class vessel since the Oct. 19 test-firing that also took place in waters off the country's eastern coastal city of Sinpo, where the North's main submarine shipyard is located.

Due to damage to its engine from the impact of the firing at the time, the 2,000-ton-class submarine could not move on its own and had to be towed by a tugboat to the Sinpo shipyard, according to military and intelligence authorities.

"Though the extent of the damage was not exactly determined, it was not in a condition where it could move on its own. It had to be towed," a source said on condition of anonymity.

The North could have carried out the October firing in a hurried manner without much preparation as South Korea had successfully test-fired two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) the previous month, becoming the world's seventh country with homegrown SLBMs.

Sources said that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities had detected signs of the North repairing the submarine until recently before the vessel was used in Saturday's SLBM launch.

No signs have emerged yet that indicate any damage to the vessel from the latest launch.

The Gorae-class submarine, which is 67 meters long and 7 meters wide, is believed to be the only type capable of firing missiles among North Korea's submarines.

In this photo released Oct. 20, 2021, by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, a new type of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is test-fired from waters the previous day. The South Korean military said on Oct. 19 that North Korea fired what appears to be an SLBM toward the East Sea from waters east of Sinpo, a city on the North's east coast. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)


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