North Korea has tested a new underwater attack drone capable of generating a radioactive tsunami, the country’s state media have claimed.
The nuclear-capable drone was launched off the coast of Riwon County in South Hamgyong Province this week.
It reached its target off Hongwon Bay, where it detonated its test warhead, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), after cruising underwater at depths of 80 to 150 m for more than 59 hours.
The drone is called the Unmanned Underwater Nuclear Attack Craft “Haeil”. Haeil means tsunami.
It is designed to sneak up on enemy fleets and ports before triggering an underwater explosion that creates a radioactive wave.
The test “verified [the drone’s] reliability” and “validated his ability to deliver the fatal blow,” KCNA said.
Also tested were four “strategic cruise missiles” that flew over the sea for more than two hours.
“Respected comrade Kim Jong Un was very pleased with the results,” KCNA said.
It comes as the US and South Korea completed an 11-day exercise that included extensive field training and as the US reportedly prepared to send an aircraft carrier to the area for more military exercises.
North Korea described the exercises as “deliberate, persistent and provocative” and said they had taken them to “an irreversibly dangerous point”.
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It described the US as “imperialists” and South Korea as “a puppet regime of traitors” and said the two countries had “launched a large-scale dangerous exercise, an actual exercise to occupy the DPRK”.
South Korea’s Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup said Thursday that the North probably hasn’t mastered the technology to arm its most advanced weapons, although it has made “significant advances”.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said: “Pyongyang’s recent claim of having a nuclear-capable underwater drone should be viewed with skepticism.
“But it is intended to show unequivocally that the Kim regime has so many different means of nuclear attack at its disposal that any pre-emptive or decapitation strike against it would fail catastrophically.”
North Korea has fired more than 20 ballistic and cruise missiles this year after firing a record more than 70 last year.
Mr Kim wants to negotiate a lifting of Western sanctions but refuses to initially agree to US demands for a cut in its nuclear programme, saying it is necessary for the North to defend itself.