Staff, Yonhap News
4 August 2017
SEOUL, KOREA -- President Moon Jae-in has made a surprise visit to the Navy Submarine Force Command, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Friday, amid discussions here over the possible construction of the country's first nuclear-powered submersibles as part of enhanced deterrence against provocative North Korea.
Moon's visit to the military command, located some 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul in Jinhae, took place Thursday, according to Cheong Wa Dae vice spokesperson Ko Min-jung.
"After receiving a report on the current conditions at the command, President Moon inspected the 1,800-ton class An Jung-geun," she said in a press briefing, adding Moon was the first South Korean president to inspect the interior of the submarine commissioned in late 2009.
The South Korean president has been staying in the southeastern port town for his five-day leave that will end later in the day.
"The president cheered up the crew of the An Jung-geun and received a report from the ship's commander on the capabilities and weapons systems aboard the ship," Ko said.
Earlier, Defense Minister Song Young-moo said the military was ready to consider building nuclear-powered submarines as a way of countering North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile technologies.
The communist North is said to possess submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), considered a key means of delivering nuclear warheads, along with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Pyongyang test launched what it claims to have been an ICBM last Friday.
"We are ready to consider" building nuclear-powered submarines, Song said when asked how he planned to counter North Korean SLBMs in a meeting with the parliamentary defense committee on Monday.
South and North Koreas technically remain at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The new South Korean administration has proposed holding a military dialogue aimed at easing tension along the countries' demarcation line, along with Red Cross talks to discuss humanitarian issues, such as reunions of families separated the division of the two Koreas.
North Korea continues to remain silent nearly three weeks after the talks were proposed July 17.