North Korea tested a new type of underwater weapon. It is intended to be used to destroy enemy ships by triggering underwater nuclear explosions, North Korean media reported. This weapon was first shown in 2023, and its new test is intended to be a response to the ongoing joint military exercises of the US, South Korea and Japan.
The test of the new weapon was carried out off the eastern coast of North Korea, but the Ministry of Defense did not provide its exact date. The weapon is the Haeil-5-23 (the word haeil in Korean means tsunami), an improved version of a large underwater drone designed to carry a nuclear device.
North Korea first reported testing such a drone – the Haeil-1 version – in March 2023, claiming it was its “secret weapon”, undetectable to radar. However, she never revealed any technical data about the structure. The Haeil drone, resembling a huge torpedo, is, according to North Korean claims, capable of surreptitiously approaching a target in the depths of the sea and then causing underwater nuclear explosions. This is supposed to create a “radioactive tsunami”, i.e. a powerful wave carrying radioactive material, used to destroy entire groups of enemy ships or naval bases.
“Our military’s underwater nuclear deterrent has been enhanced, and its various surface and underwater activities will continue to deter dangerous military maneuvers by U.S. and allied navies,” a North Korean defense ministry spokesman said in a statement.
Reuters notes that the claims about testing new weapons could not be independently verified. It is also unclear whether the Pyongyang regime has already miniaturized its nuclear warheads enough to place them in this type of drone. The issue of reducing the dimensions of its warheads has been one of the main problems of the North Korean nuclear program in recent years.
After the first Haeil tests last year, Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, noted that the latest claim by the Pyongyang authorities to have an underwater drone capable of carrying nuclear weapons “should be treated with skepticism.” As he explained, Pyongyang’s information about possessing such weapons “is intended to show that the Kim regime has so many different means of nuclear attack that any pre-emptive or decapitation strike against it would end in a catastrophic failure.”
Tension on the Korean Peninsula
This week’s maneuvers involving the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, which Pyongyang considered preparations for an invasion of North Korea, were a response to the medium-range ballistic missile launched by Kim Jong Un’s regime into the Sea of Japan on Sunday.
In a statement published by KCNA, a defense ministry spokesman condemned the three countries for “seriously threatening the security” of North Korea and warned of “catastrophic consequences” of actions he called “reckless confrontational hysteria.”
Main photo source: REUTERS