North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw tests of weapons designed to deliver nuclear strikes against the US and its allies, including one his regime billed as a new underwater drone that can create a “radioactive tsunami.”
The tests also included cruise missiles that were affixed with mock nuclear warheads, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday. The underwater drone cruised for nearly 60 hours off its east coast before detonating, it said.
“The mission of the underwater nuclear strategic weapon is to stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami through underwater explosion to destroy naval striker groups and major operational ports of the enemy,” KCNA said.
While this was the first mention that North Korea’s propaganda apparatus has made of such a drone being deployed, the state has numerous mini submarines that rely on antiquated technology and are relatively easy to spot in open waters if they stray far from the coast.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol said Pyongyang’s “reckless actions” would not go unpunished. In a speech on Friday, he called North Korea’s recent provocations “unprecedented” and said his country would enhance its security cooperation with the US and Japan to counter the threat.
The drills represent the latest efforts by North Korea to enhance its ability to deliver a credible nuclear strike against the US and its main allies in Asia — South Korea and Japan. This has included developing new solid-fuel ballistic missiles that are quick to deploy and manoeuvrable in flight, as well as new devices to deliver warheads.
North Korea has warned the US of an unprecedented response to joint military exercises with South Korea and threatened to turn the Pacific Ocean into its “firing range” if the drills continue.
The latest tests of nuclear strike capabilities coincided with the end of one of the biggest US-South Korean joint drills in years. In June, Seoul and Washington are planning to conduct their largest-ever live-fire exercises, which could lead to more provocations from Pyongyang.