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N. Korea's Kim inspects newly built submarine

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a newly built submarine. (KCNA/Kyodo)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has inspected a newly built submarine that will soon be deployed to the Sea of Japan, the country's official media reported Tuesday.

    The Korean Central News Agency report on what is described as the "successful building of the Korean-style powerful submarine" comes as the country is believed to be seeking a submarine-launched ballistic missile system.

    The report did not say when or where Kim inspected the submarine but said the vessel "will perform its duty in the operational waters of the East Sea of Korea and its operational deployment is near at hand."

    As he learned in detail about the submarine's combat weapon systems, Kim expressed "great satisfaction" over the fact that it was built to fully implement the "military strategic intention of the (ruling Workers' Party of Korea) under various circumstances," KCNA reported.

    He "stressed the need to steadily and reliably increase the national defense capability by directing big efforts to the development of the naval weapons and equipment such as submarine (sic)," it added.

    The report is an indication that North Korea continues to build up its military capabilities while at the same time seeking to re-engage the United States in denuclearization talks.

    At a bilateral meeting in the Demilitarized Zone on the inter-Korean border late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim agreed to resume the stalled talks.

    In June, 38 North, a U.S. group that monitors North Korea, released its analysis of North Korea's submarine program. Citing commercial satellite imagery, the group said the country was continuing to build what may be a ballistic missile submarine at a shipyard in Sinpo in its east.

    South Korean media reported earlier that North Korea was building a 3,000-ton submarine capable of carrying multiple SLBMs.

    North Korea is thought to have developed an SLBM system that can hit targets 1,000 kilometers away and beyond. But the country is believed to have deployed only one 1,500-ton SLBM-ready submarine that is capable of carrying just one SLBM.

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