State media claim North Korea has tested a nuke-capable underwater drone

Local news sources say North Korea has successfully built and tested an underwater drone that can deliver nuclear weapons.
Christopher McFadden
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un


North Korea said on Friday that it had successfully tested an underwater drone that can carry a nuclear warhead and cause a "radioactive tsunami." The drone, dubbed "Haeil," was launched from the waters off South Hamgyong Province, cruising for over 59 hours at a depth of 262 feet (80 meters) to 492 feet (150 meters) before being detonated off the country's east coast.

The weapon is allegedly designed to attack enemy vessels and ports by setting off a "super-scale" radioactive wave. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the exercise. The country claims the weapon warns the US and South Korea to "realize the DPRK's unlimited nuclear war deterrence capability being bolstered up at a greater speed."

According to the BBC, the newest weapon from North Korea resembles Russian "Poseidon" torpedoes, which are thought to be able to unleash nuclear and radioactive tsunamis that could wipe out coastal US towns. The Russian "Poseidon" torpedo is a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) fired from submarines.

It is thought that it could carry a nuclear warhead and travel long distances underwater, making it hard to find and stop. The Poseidon's nuclear propulsion system would give it virtually limitless range. It is said to be capable of creating a massive radioactive wave that could cause significant damage to coastal cities. However, Russia has not offered any proof of a successful test of the Poseidon, and analysts suspect that it could be years before deployment.

However, analysts urged caution regarding North Korea's claims, with some calling for skepticism.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said, "Pyongyang's latest claim to have a nuclear-capable underwater drone should be met with skepticism." He added that North Korea had previously exaggerated its capabilities and deployment timelines. Ankit Panda, a nuclear weapons specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that "it would be ill-advised to allocate limited fissile material for a warhead in an underwater drone, as opposed to a more 'road-mobile' ballistic missile."

On Wednesday, North Korea also fired strategic cruise missiles with a test warhead that looked like a nuclear warhead. A KCNA report says that Pyongyang needs to make nuclear weapons to stop "the reckless military provocations that the US and South Korean governments are stepping up." US and South Korean forces have held their most significant joint field exercises on the Korean Peninsula in five years, increasing regional tensions.

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