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South Korea Navy to acquire two Nuclear Power Submarine.

| 2019

South Korea's Navy is looking to build 2 nuclear-powered submarines and has assigned a task force to study the project. South Korean chief Admiral Sim Seung-seob said that nuclear-powered submarines would be “most effective in finding and destroying North Korean submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles,”.

South Korea Navy to acquire two Nuclear Power Submarine 925 001 South Korean Navy submarine manoeuvres during maritime operation in the waters east of the Korean Peninsula (Picture source: U.S. Navy)

Seoul is surrounded by three nuclear powers - China, Russia, and North Korea, which invaded its neighbour in 1950 - while it and neighbour Japan, both of them US allies but with difficult relations between them, rely on Washington's nuclear umbrella.

Pyongyang last week tested what it said was a submarine-launched ballistic missile, although the US said it seemed to have been fired from a "sea-based platform".

A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North's arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a second-strike capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.

In a report submitted to Parliament, the South Korean navy said it had set up a task force headed by a commander-level official to examine procuring nuclear-powered submarines in the long term, the South's Yonhap news agency reported.

It appears to be the first time Seoul has publicly spoken of developing nuclear submarines, which were not mentioned in its most recent Defence White Paper. The document, released in January, said the South had 10 conventional diesel-powered submarines, compared to 70 for the North.

The plan to build such boats was floated as early as in 2003 as part of its long-term military build-up program. Seoul dropped the project in 2004 following its disclosure in the media. Then in 2017, the defence ministry carried out research on the matter through private entities, which led the military to feel the necessity of the asset, according to Navy officers.

Speculations are rife that the country could develop its 3,000-ton Chang Bo Go-III submarine as a nuclear-powered one. Seoul is currently carrying out the project to build the 3,000-ton indigenous submarine by 2031, with a process to develop its system set to begin in earnest this year.

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