Nuclear-powered subs ‘helpful’ in deterring North Korea threat, Seoul says

SEOUL, Oct. 11 (UPI) — North Korea‘s missile threats are prompting more South Korean officials to consider the deployment of nuclear-powered submarines.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Um Hyun-seong told South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday adding nuclear submarines to Seoul’s naval fleet would be “helpful in a number of aspects,” Yonhap reported.

In September a South Korean think tank recommended nuclear-powered submarines as a deterrent against Pyongyang’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

“So far surveillance of North Korea submarines has been conducted by reconnaissance satellite, but because real-time tracking is difficult, in order to detect and destroy [North Korean incursions] a careful review of the need for nuclear submarine ownership is necessary,” the think tank had stated.

Um did not go into the specific details of his recommendation but said any proposal would need to be reviewed thoroughly by Seoul’s defense ministry.

South Korean politicians who are not opposed to the acquisition of nuclear submarines have also been worried that the move could raise concerns in the United States.

Washington could place “pressure” on Seoul if South Korea chose to acquire the submarines, a defense ministry official has said.

During the parliamentary audit on Tuesday, Um also said next-generation South Korean Aegis destroyers must be equipped with SM-3 missiles, known as the “THAAD of the sea.”

THAAD is the U.S. missile defense system that is to be placed on the peninsula by late 2017.

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