North Korea Launches 'New' Ballistic Sub*
*Geriatric Soviet subs years away from being able to fire missiles
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2014 3:30 PM CST
One of Russia's Paltus (Turbot) class, also known as Varshavyanka class of Soviet-built diesel-electric submarines, is moored at Kamchatka in this 2007 file photo.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – North Korea has reportedly launched a new class of submarine that's capable of firing ballistic missiles, and as Yonhap reports, that's "raising further concerns over the North's evolving missile and nuclear threats." But don't everybody run to the bunker just yet: Reading between the lines in the report, Gizmodo notes that the Golf II class submarine is really just "new" to Pyongyang—sort of. The submarines were developed by the Soviets in 1958; they were then decommissioned in 1990. The North scooped up about 10 in a post-Soviet-Union-collapse firesale in 1993, and as Gizmodo notes, here we are two decades later and "the hermit country still has a bit of a ways to go."

Others are even more dismissive: "If the North decides to pursue such a capability, it is likely to take years to design, develop, manufacture, and deploy an operational submarine-launched ballistic missile force," an expert writes at 38North, as per Bloomberg. A source backs that sentiment up, telling Yonhap that the North has been testing missile tubes mounted to the subs, but that about a dozen more tests are needed to get it right. South Korea is also looking to beef up its Navy with six new subs; those are due in 2027, though. (Meanwhile, Pyongyang is not messing around with its Ebola response.)