North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un always gets fidgety when some other global supervillain hogs the spotlight. Having watched Iran mop the floor with President Barack Obama and ISIS turn cities into torture chambers for long enough, Kim decided to announce that his arsenal now includes submarine-launched nuclear ballistic missiles.
“In a statement, a spokesman for the North’s powerful National Defense Commission said it will defend the North with the nuclear weapons made small enough to be mounted on missiles, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA),” reports the South Korean news agency Yonhap.
The Norks rolled out their sub-launched missile with great fanfare, including a photo of Kim–the tubby dictator who presides over a permanent “Hunger Games” with no winning contestants–pointing at the missile launch from the deck of a surface vessel, much as a tourist aboard a cruise ship might point out his first dolphin sighting:
According to NBC News, a “top U.S. military official” says the photos have been “manipulated by state propagandists.”
Admiral James Winnefeld told the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday that North Korea remains “many years” away from sub-launched ballistic missiles, and has not “gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe.”
NBC further quotes a pair of German aerospace engineers who reviewed the photos and found numerous telltale signs of fakery, including reflections in the water that don’t line up with the missile, and different exhaust-fume colors in different photos distributed by North Korean state media.
However, Reuters reports that South Korean officials do think their unruly neighbors managed a submarine missile launch, although it didn’t get very far. “We haven’t changed our stance that the rocket was fired from a submarine and flew about 150 meters out of the water,” declared a South Korean military officer.
Well, if these pictures of a submarine missile launch are fake, at least they’re more realistic than some of North Korea’s previous efforts at photoshopping missile launches: