South Korea said it is paying attention to developments at Sinpo Shipyard, where in July 2019 Kim Jong Un examined a ROMEO-class submarine. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
March 29 (UPI) -- North Korea's possible preparations for the launch of a new submarine is being "closely monitored," Seoul said, after U.S. analysts said movement has been detected at Sinpo South Naval Shipyard.
South Korean defense ministry spokesman Boo Seung-chan said Monday at a regular press briefing that U.S. and South Korean intelligence authorities are "closely cooperating" and the government is tracking the latest developments, News 1 reported.
The statement from Seoul comes after satellite imagery analysis published to 38 North suggested North Korea had repositioned a floating dry dock alongside a submarine-launch quay.
"The new ballistic missile submarine, which has been under construction for several years, may be nearing completion or is ready to be rolled out and launched in the near future," analysts Jack Liu and Peter Makowsky said.
On Monday the defense ministry said that it had "no particular comments" on what appeared to be potential North Korean preparations for submarine deployment.
In July 2019, Kim Jong Un conducted field guidance at Sinpo Shipyard and examined a ROMEO-class submarine. The deployment of a new submarine could mean the regime might test submarine-launched ballistic missiles, a violation of U.N. National Security Council sanctions resolutions. North Korean SLBMs Pukguksong-4 and Pukguksong-5 were on display at a January military parade, according to Liu and Makowsky.
North Korea's launch of two short-range ballistic missiles early Thursday, local time, has been condemned in Washington as a violation of international law. China also could be tracking developments closely.
According to Japan's Joint Staff Office, the country's maritime self-defense force detected two Chinese naval destroyers and one frigate in an area about 30 miles northeast of Tsushima Island at 5 p.m. Thursday, News 1 reported Monday.
Japanese authorities identified the destroyers as the Type 055 Destroyer and the Type 052D destroyer. The frigate was the identified as the Type 054A of the Jiangkai-II class, the report said.