Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
- North Korea claims it tested an underwater drone that can create a radioactive tsunami.
- It said it detonated the drone near a mock port on Thursday and “confirmed its lethal strike capability.”
- The announcement on Friday is the first time Pyongyang has publicly mentioned such a weapon.
North Korea claimed on Friday that it tested an underwater nuclear drone that can trigger a “super-scale radioactive tsunami” by exploding in the ocean.
The drone is named the “Haeil” — which translates to “tsunami” or “tidal wave.” It was designed to strike both naval assets and coastal targets, North Korean state media outlet KCNA reported.
“The mission of the underwater nuclear strategic weapon is to stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami through underwater explosion to destroy naval striker groups and major operational ports of the enemy,” KCNA wrote.
The party-controlled news outlet added that the drone can be “deployed at any coast and port.”
The drone was tested off North Korea’s eastern coast at Hongwon Bay, on Thursday, per state media. The drone attacked a “mock enemy port” set up by the military, and the test “fully confirmed its lethal strike capability,” KCNA wrote.
Before the drone detonated, it cruised around the area at a depth of 262 feet to 492 feet for nearly 60 hours, KCNA reported.
The outlet released photos of an underwater explosion and an object moving below the ocean’s surface.
Friday’s announcement was the first time that North Korea has publicly mentioned such a weapon. Pyongyang maintains a fleet of about 64 to 86 submarines, which are mostly small coastal vessels and mini subs with limited range, per the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit that catalogs nuclear weapons around the world.
North Korea also has two ballistic missile submarines, which it says are capable of launching warheads with a range that extends to South Korea or Japan, per the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
KCNA said on Friday that Pyongyang also tested two strategic cruise missiles, which flew 932 miles and 1,118 miles over a period of around two hours.
North Korea has in the last year aggressively ramped up its testing of long-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles. These tests have often been framed as a response to the US and South Korea for North Korea says is unprovoked aggression.
Its Friday announcement comes as the US and South Korea wrap up 11-day joint drills that began March 13.
South Korean soldiers and US soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Battalion pose for a photo before a Warrior Shield live fire exercise at a military training field in Pocheon on March 22, 2023, as part of the Freedom Shield joint military exercise.
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un mentioned the drills while attending this week’s nuclear tests, and accused the US of disrupting regional stability, per KCNA.
Kim spoke of a need for what KCNA described as “offensive actions” to remind the world that North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs were being “bolstered up at a greater speed,” the outlet wrote.