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By 1990, all Golf-class submarines were decommissioned. Ten of them were allegedly sold to North Korea in 1993. And now it appears that North Korean engineers have been busy learning Soviet technology for the last 20 years and have got the sub seaworthy again.

An unidentified submarine was spotted by a US intelligence satellite. The vessel is moored at North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard.

“The new submarine is 67 meters long with a beam of 6.6 meters, and has a dive displacement in the 3,000-tonne range,” Yonhap’s source in Seoul said.

However outdated these subs might appear today, their three ballistic missiles could hit targets at a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, albeit with low accuracy. Some versions of the ballistic missiles used on them could be launched from underwater. By purchasing old Soviet subs, Pyongyang must have saved years of research in submarine missile launch technology.