On Friday, North Korea claimed to have tested an underwater drone with nuclear weapons that could unleash a massive “radioactive tsunami” that would destroy navy strike groups and ports.
Experts were dubious about the device’s potential to pose a significant new danger, but the test highlights the North’s dedication to escalating nuclear threats.
The test took place this week as the US prepared to send aircraft carrier strike groups and other cutting-edge equipment to the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
The frequency of North Korean weapons tests and joint U.S.-South Korean military drills has intensified over the past year in a cycle of tit-for-tat retorts, raising military tensions to an all-time high.
The new weapon, which can be launched from the coast or towed by surface ships, is designed to “stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami through an underwater explosion” to destroy enemy naval strike groups and ports, according to Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The news broke just hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol promised to hold North Korea accountable for its “reckless provocations” while paying tribute to the 55 South Korean service members who lost their lives in recent violent battles with the North close to their western maritime border.
A three-day exercise featuring cruise missile launches and testing the alleged “nuclear underwater attack drone” simulated nuclear attacks on unidentified South Korean targets.
The latest tests, according to KCNA, were overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who promised to make his rivals “plunge into despair” to warn the United States and South Korea of an impending “nuclear crisis” as they carry on with their “intentional, persistent, and provocative war drills.”
After finishing an 11-day exercise that includes their most considerable field training in years on Thursday, the United States and South Korea are now preparing for another round of joint naval drills that will reportedly involve an American aircraft carrier.
Hours after the North Korean report, the South Korean air force made public the results of a combined US-South Korean aviation exercise that lasted five days and was conducted over the western coast of South Korea.
According to the air force, at least one US fighter plane and several South Korean fighter jets participated in the practice.
The A-10 attack plane was used to test the precision strike capabilities and reaffirm the validity of Seoul’s “three-axis” strategy against North Korean nuclear threats, which includes attacking potential attack sources beforehand, intercepting incoming missiles, and neutralizing the North’s leadership and critical military facilities.
Haeil, a Korean word that means tidal waves or tsunamis, is the name of the North Korean drone. Kim was photographed grinning next to an oversized torpedo-shaped item at an unnamed indoor facility, but the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper did not specify it.
Additional images published with the post showed a pillar of water shooting up into the air and sea-surface traces allegedly generated by the drone’s underwater course.