North Korea claimed on Friday to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone designed to generate a gigantic “radioactive tsunami” that would destroy naval strike groups and ports.Analysts were skeptical that the device presents a major new threat, but the test underlines the North’s commitment to raising nuclear threats.
The test this week came as the United States reportedly planned to deploy aircraft carrier strike groups and other advanced assets to waters off the Korean Peninsula.Military tensions are at a high point as the pace of both North Korean weapons tests and US-South Korea joint military exercises has accelerated in the past year in a cycle of tit-for-tat responses.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the new weapon, which can be deployed from the coast or towed by surface ships, is built 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.
The report came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged to make North Korea pay for its “reckless provocations” as he attended a remembrance service honoring 55 South Korean troops killed during major clashes with the North near their western sea border in past years.
The testing of the purported “nuclear underwater attack drone” was part of a three-day exercise that simulated nuclear attacks on unspecified South Korean targets, which also included cruise missile launches Wednesday.KCNA said the North’s latest tests were aimed at alerting the United States and South Korea of a brewing “nuclear crisis” as they continue with their “intentional, persistent and provocative war drills.” It said the tests were supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who vowed to make his rivals “plunge into despair.”
The US and South Korea completed an 11-day exercise Thursday that included their biggest field training in years, and are preparing another round of joint naval drills that will reportedly involve a US aircraft carrier.Hours after the North Korean report, South Korea’s air force released details of a five-day joint aerial drill with the United States that began Monday and concluded Friday above waters off South Korea’s western coast, which included live-fire demonstrations of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
The air force said the exercise, which involved various South Korean fighter jets and at least one US A-10 attack plane, was aimed at verifying precision strike capabilities and reaffirming the credibility of Seoul’s “three-axis” strategy against North Korean nuclear threats — preemptively striking sources of attacks, intercepting incoming missiles and neutralizing the North’s leadership and key military facilities.
Other photos published with the same article showed sea-surface tracks supposedly caused by the drone’s underwater trajectory and a pillar of water exploding up into the air, possibly caused by what state media described as an underwater detonation of a mock nuclear weapon carried by the drone.