South Korea launches its first missile-capable submarine

SEOUL: South Korea launched its first ever missile-capable attack submarine on Friday, despite a recent diplomatic thaw with the nuclear-armed North.
The $700-million, 3,000-tonne Dosan Ahn Chang-ho submarine is capable of firing both cruise and ballistic missiles and the first of three planned diesel-electric boats to go into service in the next five years.
It represented a “leap forward in the country’s” defence industry, President Moon Jae-in told a launch ceremony at the Daewoo shipyard where it was designed and built.
“Peace through power is the unwavering security strategy of this government.”
Moon will head to Pyongyang next week for a third summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un, as US-led efforts to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons have stalled.
“We have set off on a grand journey towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” Moon said.
“But peace is not given gratuitously,” he added.
The new submarine is fitted with six vertical launch tubes and features indigenous sonar and combat management systems.
Aside from the new vessels, South Korea has an existing fleet of 18 smaller submarines, all built in cooperation with Germany.
According to the defence ministry, the North has 70 ageing submarines and submersibles, and Yonhap news agency reported that it has also developed a new 2,500-tonne submarine fitted with a vertical launch system.
Joint liaison office in North
Meanwhile, North and South Korea opened a joint liaison office in the Northern city of Kaesong on Friday as they knit closer ties ahead of President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Pyongyang.
“A new chapter in history is open here today,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a ceremony, calling the office “another symbol of peace jointly created by the South and the North”.
The nuclear-armed North’s chief delegate Ri Son Gwon responded in kind, calling it a “substantial fruit nourished by the people of the north and south”.
The two Koreas have sought to pursue joint projects in multiple fields since the April summit between Moon and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula, even as US efforts to secure concrete progress towards Pyongyang’s denuclearisation have stalled.
The leaders’ first meeting as well as key events during the three-day visit will be shown live on television, Moon’s office said after a working-level meeting with the North on Friday. — AFP