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ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korea tests underwater nuclear drone

March 24, 2023

Pyongyang's new underwater drone is intended to be capable of carrying out sneak attacks in enemy waters. As a test went ahead, North Korea's Kim Jong Un condemned joint US-South Korean drills.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks upwards and smiles. His wife Ri Sol Ju stands in the back.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to ensure US and Seoul would "plunge into despair."Image: KCNA/KNS/STR/AFP

North Korean state media reported on Friday that the country's military had tested a new underwater nuclear drone.

The announcement came with tensions around the Korean peninsula running high as the US and South Korea recently concluded their largest joint military exercise in five years. North Korea's Kim Jong Un has vowed to ensure that the two allies will "plunge into despair".

A radioactive 'tsunami'

The new drone dubbed "Haueil", meaning "tsunami" is intended to be capable of sneaking into enemy waters and destroying naval strike groups and major operational ports.

This would be done using large radioactive waves through underwater explosions, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

During the test, the drone cruised underwater at a depth of 80 to 150 meters (about 260 to 490 feet) for more than 59 hours.

Analysts remained skeptical about the readiness of the underwater vehicle. However, they warned that the North Korean dictator is showing off his diverse nuclear tactics as a threat to Washington and Seoul.

Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace observed that the new drone resembled Russia's nuclear torpedoes — a new type of weapon meant to create destructive, radioactive blasts in coastal areas.

North Korea warns of brewing "nuclear crisis"

North Korea stepped up its weaponry demonstration as Washington and Seoul completed their 11-day joint exercise called "Freedom Shield 23."

KCNA said Kim had supervised the three-day exercise, which also involved the detonations of mock nuclear warheads.

The drills, the media reported, were aimed at alerting the two allies of a brewing "nuclear crisis" as they continue with their "intentional, persistent and provocative war drills."

The US intends to send an aircraft carrier in the coming days for another round of joint drills with Seoul.

Seoul: North Korea will pay for "reckless provocation"

Kim Jong Un believes that the military drills conducted by the allies are part of a preparation for the invasion of North Korea.

However, Seoul and Washington have maintained that the exercises are purely defensive.

They have criticized North Korea's tests and accused the isolated country of breaching UN sanctions. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Friday that he would ensure that Pyongyang paid for its "reckless provocation."

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol raises his hand while speaking.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said that Pyongyang paid for its "reckless provocation."Image: Daewoung Kim/REUTERS

In 2022, Pyongyang fired more than 70 missiles. This year, North Korea has fired at least 20 ballistic and cruise missiles over 10 different launch events.

Seoul and Washington have responded by expanding their joint military exercises which had been downsized in previous years.

ns/rc (AP, Reuters)