ROK's Development of Nuclear Submarine Is Rubbing Salt in the Wound

China Military Online
Yao Jianing

BEIJING, September 20 (ChinaMil) -- If we compare South Korea's determination to deploy the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile system to "cutting a wound" on the Korean Peninsula, its development of nuclear submarine is rubbing salt in the wound.

Recently, the South Korean government and military have released signals that they will begin to develop nuclear submarines. The news not only shocked the Korean Peninsula, but also the East Asia as a whole.

South Korea claimed that its nuclear submarine development is to effectively deal with missile and nuclear tests and other serious threats posed by North Korea in the past few days.

Moreover, South Korea has also found that such threats have been intensified and are powerful enough to cover the whole territory of South Korea. Based on this, the South Korean military officially announced "Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation" (KMPR) targeting North Korea on September 11.

But Seoul knows that it is ideal if the US can launch long-range precision strike against strategic objectives in North Korea. However, South Korea is clear that "Uncle Sam" has always been high-handed and its military actions are always based on its strategies and needs and therefore Seoul must have its own deterrent force.

Thus, South Korea developed two types of strategies. On one hand, South Korea strives to maximize the aid of the US military for missile attack or targeted killings against North Korea. On the other hand, South Korea can quickly switch to its own "trump card" weapons if the US would not intervene.

South Korea's homegrown "Hyunmoo-3C" cruise missile, which is mounted on shore-based motor vehicles and its F-15K fighter-bombers, has a maximum range of 1,500 kilometers. The missile is fully capable of conducting effective long-range precision strikes against all nuclear test sites, missile positions, commanding systems and other strategic objectives in North Korea.

Even so, South Korea cannot rest assured and they feel the need to further intensify retaliation "chips". South Korea has determined to increase the number of purchase of fourth generation F-35 stealth fighters from 40 to 60.

While developing shore-based and airborne combat troops and weapons, South Korea is also thinking of using advanced nuclear submarines to combat North Korea's ballistic missiles and submarines, namely, "submarine against submarine".

From the end of August to early September, the South Korean military has unveiled many times "to discuss the option."

The deployment of nuclear submarines can not only avoid going to war, but also destroy the enemy from a hidden place. Coupled with the advantage of "Hyunmoo-3" cruise missile, South Korean is quite obsessed with the development of nuclear submarines equipped with cruise missiles in order to get advantages against North Korea.

Once South Korea has their own nuclear submarines and use them frequently, or even have frictions with ships from North Korea, the already extremely fragile "denuclearization" situation on the Korean Peninsula will get worse, and the situation on the peninsula will become even less peaceful.

Moreover, the development of nuclear submarines in South Korea is bound to spark a series of chain reactions, leading to intensified arms race in the region.

Some countries who are already eager to develop nuclear submarines will likely to take the opportunity as the best excuse to pursue nuclear submarines and openly develop nuclear submarines with "perfectly justifiable excuse". Japan is a very good example.

Some stronger countries in Southeast Asia or Australia and other regional powers will thus get involved in nuclear submarines. If that is the case, waters in East Asia and the Western Pacific will have "surging undercurrent" and the possibility of underwater military conflicts and small-scale war will increase significantly.

The author is Li Jie, a naval expert.

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