On May 12, we wrote about a statement from South Korean defense officials about a North Korean test launch of a missile from a submarine. As we mentioned at the time, U.S. analysts were skeptical that Pyongyang could have developed this technology so quickly. The doubters turn out to be right, according to Reuters:
Photographs showing a North Korean missile launched from a submarine were manipulated by state propagandists and the country may be years away from developing such technology, analysts and a top U.S. military official said on Tuesday.[…]
On Wednesday, North Korea warned the United States not to challenge its sovereign right to boost military deterrence and boasted of its ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads, a claim it has made before and which has been widely questioned by experts and never verified.
But North Korea is still “many years” from developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles, U.S. Admiral James Winnefeld told an audience at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies in Washington on Tuesday.
“They have not gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe,” said Winnefeld, who is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
So while it’s still true that North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities are worrying, as is the apparent uncertainty about their sophistication among Pyongyang’s enemies, for now we don’t have to fear nuclear missile-armed submarine technology. We just have to watch out for North Korean photoshop.