North Korea says it has launched a newly-built "tactical nuclear attack submarine" that will conduct operations in the Sea of Japan.
The ruling Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said on Friday that the submarine's launching ceremony was held on Wednesday. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was reportedly present at the event.
Kim reportedly said in a speech that the submarine is capable of carrying a large amount of nuclear arms and launching preemptive and retaliatory attacks. He also said it "will perform its combat mission as one of core underwater offensive means of the naval force" of North Korea.
Kim also expressed his intention to accelerate development of the country's first nuclear-powered submarine. In 2021, the country pledged in its five-year national defense program that it would develop such a vessel.
The paper said that on the following day Kim inspected the submarine ahead of its test run. It quoted Kim as saying that arming the navy with nuclear weapons is an urgent task that should not be delayed any longer.
In July 2019, Kim inspected a submarine that was being constructed. Pyongyang said the vessel would ultimately conduct operations in the Sea of Japan. South Korean forces have said that it can carry three submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs.
The submarine launched on Wednesday could be the one Kim inspected in 2019.
North Korea is apparently trying to boost morale ahead of the 75th anniversary of the nation's founding. The country will mark the milestone on Saturday. The North may also be trying to show that it is willing to equip its naval forces with tactical nuclear weapons to counter the United States and other countries.