Drone cruised underwater for 59 hours, then detonated in an exercise designed to deter S Korea and US forces: KCNA.
North Korea has tested a new underwater nuclear-capable attack drone designed to unleash a “radioactive tsunami” that would destroy enemy naval vessels and ports, state media has reported.
During a military exercise conducted this week under the guidance of the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s military deployed and test-fired the new weapons system, the mission of which was to test the ability to set off a “super-scale” destructive blast and wave, the country’s state news agency KCNA said on Friday.
“This nuclear underwater attack drone can be deployed at any coast and port or towed by a surface ship for operation,” KCNA said.
The news agency said that during the exercise, the drone was put in the water off South Hamgyong province on Tuesday and cruised underwater for 59 hours and 12 minutes, at a depth of some 80 to 150 metres (260 to 490 feet), before detonating in waters off its east coast on Thursday.
KCNA did not elaborate on the drone’s nuclear capabilities.
The underwater drone system is intended to make sneak attacks in enemy waters and destroy naval striker groups and major operational ports, the news agency said.
North Korean state media notes that Kim Jong Un oversaw recent weapons test, including of a “a new underwater offensive weapon system.” KCNA describes it as “unmanned underwater nuclear attacking vessel ‘Haeil’”. (No previous indication that such a program existed in DPRK.) pic.twitter.com/LHHp4V8B3D
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) March 23, 2023
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said the drone’s final target point was a mock enemy port set up in the waters of Hongwon Bay, according to the state media report.
The reported drone exercise comes as a US amphibious assault ship arrived in South Korea for joint military drills codenamed “Freedom Shield”. After Pyongyang’s unprecedented year of weapons tests and sabre rattling, the US and South Korea have ramped up defence cooperation and, on March 13, inaugurated what will be their largest joint military exercises in five years.
Last weekend, the two allies staged air and sea drills involving US B-1B strategic bombers. Their navies and marine corps are set to start the large-scale Ssangyong amphibious landing exercises. The drills will continue for two weeks until April 3.
Yonhap said the North Korean news agency also blasted the joint US-South Korean exercises, which it claimed had “driven the military and political situation of the Korean peninsula to an irreversibly dangerous point”.
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “guided” this week’s underwater drone exercise and said it should serve as a warning to Washington and Seoul to “realise the DPRK’s unlimited nuclear war deterrence capability being bolstered up at a greater speed”.
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In a separate flexing of its military muscle this week, North Korea also confirmed it had fired four cruise missiles on Wednesday to practise carrying out tactical nuclear-attack missions. The missiles were tipped with a “test warhead simulating a nuclear warhead” and flew 1,500 to 1,800 km (932 to 1,120 miles), the KCNA news agency added on Friday.
South Korea’s military confirmed on Thursday that North Korea had fired four cruise missiles off the country’s east coast a day earlier.
KCNA said two “Hwasal-1”-type strategic cruise missiles and two “Hwasal-2”-type strategic cruise missiles, launched in South Hamgyong province, accurately hit their target set in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.
That launches come approximately a week after North Korea test-fired its largest and most powerful missile, a Hwasong-17 – its second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test so far this year.