The think tank claims satellite images show a dolphin training facility at a naval base in Nampo, located on the west coast of the hermit nation. The US Naval Institute (USNI), which provides a forum for debate about national security around the world, posted the images alongside the report on its website. The article added the facility is believed to have been around since 2015, due to animal pens appearing near a shipyard near naval units around that time.
The report said: “But the main activity moved to a site further up the river on the edge of town.
“This base, possibly where the dolphins are bred, began its development in October 2016.”
The USNI added the facility looks similar to dolphin training centres already being developed by both the US and Russian militaries.
However, the article added these pens could be “some type of fish farm”.
It said: “North Korea has placed increased emphasis on fish farming in recent years and they are cropping up all over the country.
“Many are run by the armed forces.”
Dolphins and sea lions are trained in America by the US Navy Marine Mammal Programme (NNMP), in San Diego, California.
They are said to be useful for detecting underwater mines.
The Russian navy also reportedly uses beluga whales for military operations.
Last year, reports from Norway claimed a whale had been found wearing a Russian harness and a GoPro camera.
This sparked concern it was a spy for the Russian Navy.
The USNI report added dolphins could be used in North Korea for detecting underwater explosives.
They could also check cables and sonar devices on the seafloor.
The report said: “Human swimmers cannot compete with dolphins or seals in speed, agility, and the natural ability to ‘see’ in dark or murky water.
“It’s not a contest, but because they cannot identify whether the diver is a friend or foe, they would only be used to mark the target by attaching a buoy.
“This is also more practical for training purposes.
“Enemy divers can then be dealt with by grenades or nets with shark hooks.”
Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean Studies at the Centre for the National Interest, said North Korea was capable of creating weapons other countries “would never consider”.
He told Newsweek: “While many times we think of the North Koreans as a poor, starving and backwards people, their economic challenges push them to innovate in ways that we can’t relate to sometimes.
“Because of their lack of resources, they many times create weapons that we would never even consider, and using dolphins for military applications does make sense in that context. While it’s hard to know what missions they would use them for and under what scenarios, I do think it is possible.”