The 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea caught the attention of many military analysts. For the first time in history, Pyongyang organized a military parade during this political event, during which it displayed “the most powerful weapon in the world.”
We discussed with Kim Dong-yup, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, about what North Korean authorities wanted to tell the world when they introduced the Pukguksong-5 submarine ballistic missile.
According to the expert, it is unlikely that this parade was organized with the aim of displaying weapons, threatening or exerting pressure. On the contrary, it can be interpreted as an attempt to give importance to the VIII Congress of Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
His main motive was to present military force as a means of survival for the State and a strategy for its development. In this strategy, a policy would dominate that would give priority to the masses and would focus on the economy, he said.
“North Korea’s first priority has been to eliminate public fears about security in order to implement the new five-year economic development plan that was outlined at the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and demonstrate a security environment that allows concentrating on the economy at the expense of internal cohesion,” he emphasized.
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Regarding the speculation about the published photos in which the new weapon appears, the expert emphasized that on this occasion North Korea had not shown the land-based ICBMs they presented on October 10, 2020, during the parade held on the occasion of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
The reasons why they did not appear are not entirely clear, but Pyongyang may not have done so for security reasons. If he showed them frequently, his adversaries would be able to deduce their possible benefits and characteristics, and thus adopt the corresponding countermeasures, the expert says.
“Optimists might say that North Korea did not want to upset the US, but it is not. After all, what was shown during the parade was more than just an ICBM: an underwater variant of the projectile was presented,” he asserted.
Kim Dong-yup was struck by its external shape, which, he says, has not changed much compared to that of the Pukguksong-4 presented on October 10, 2020. Therefore, according to him, it is very likely that it is a mockup.
The North Korean military has not even tested its predecessor, the Pukguksong-4, while the Pukguksong-3 took off only once from a barge.
“It is very likely that it is a prototype built from initial sketches. It is ridiculous to conclude that this missile has a separable warhead, based only on the fact that it has the increased length and diameter or the warhead itself is rounder,” he warned.
In this situation, it makes no sense to compare its external parameters with those of the previous version. Suffice it to understand that this projectile name change means that North Korea is looking to further improve solid-fuel-powered underwater ballistic missiles. It does so with the aim of eventually installing them on a nuclear submarine and developing from them a strategic nuclear weapon that is launched from the water.