CNN

North Korea claims to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone

Mar 24, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 11:19 am

FILE - A TV screen shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the S...

FILE - A TV screen shows an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on March 13, 2023.  North Korea on Friday claimed it had tested an underwater drone capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could create a "radioactive tsunami" -- however analysts urged skepticism. Photo credit: Associated Press

(CNN) — North Korea on Friday claimed it had tested an underwater drone capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could create a “radioactive tsunami” — however analysts urged skepticism.

A report from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the drone, called the “Unmanned Underwater Nuclear Attack Craft ‘Haeil,'” was tested from March 21 to 23, cruising in waters off the country’s east coast for more than 59 hours before its test warhead was detonated on Thursday afternoon.

“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,” the KCNA report said.

The KCNA report said the weapon has been in development since 2012 and has undergone more than 50 tests in the past two years.

This week’s test “verified its reliability and safety and fully confirmed its lethal strike capability,” the KCNA report said, adding the drone can be deployed from any port or towed by a surface ship to begin its operations.

Analysts poured doubt on North Korea’s claims.

“Pyongyang’s latest claim to have a nuclear-capable underwater drone should be met with skepticism” because North Korea offered no proof, said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Writing on social media, Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “I tend to take North Korea seriously, but can’t rule out the possibility that this is an attempt at deception/psyop.”

“Would be ill-advised to allocate limited fizmat (fissile material) for a warhead to go in this thing, IMO, vs. more road-mobile ballistic missiles,” Panda added.

The idea of an unmanned submersible carrying a nuclear warhead is not unique to North Korea.

Russia claims to have developed the Poseidon torpedo, a submarine-launched, nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear munitions. Its nuclear propulsion system would give the Poseidon virtually limitless range.

But Russia has offered no proof of a successful test of the Poseidon and analysts suspect it could be years from deployment.

North Korea’s purported new underwater weapon has important differences from the Poseidon.

It is conventionally powered and is not launched from a sub, meaning it would not be on a par with the Russian torpedo, the analysts said.

Missile tests

North Korea’s drone test claim comes at the same time Pyongyang said it tested nuclear-capable cruise missiles this week.

Four of the subsonic missiles hit targets in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, after flying oval and figure-8 patterns of 1,500 and 1,800 kilometers (932 and 1,118 miles) on Wednesday, KCNA reported.

Wednesday’s drill “let strategic cruise missile units get familiar with the procedures and processes for carrying out the tactical nuclear attack missions,” the report said.

The state-run Rodong Sinmun released a series of photos on its website purportedly showing the cruise missiles and the underwater drone.

The KCNA report said Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development was necessary to counter “the reckless military provocations being escalated by the U.S. and the South Korean authorities.”

US and South Korean forces have been holding their biggest war games in five years on the southern part of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has been testing various missiles at the same time, including the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week and the tests of smaller-range missiles like the cruise missiles tested on Wednesday.

Analysts say Pyongyang is delivering a message to the US and its allies in the region.

“North Korea’s ICBM tests are thinly veiled threats that it could potentially destroy American cities,” Easley said. “Its recent short-range missile firings attempt to increase the credibility, command, and control of its self-proclaimed tactical nuclear weapons units aimed at South Korea and Japan.”

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) heads to the floor of the Senate for a vote on Capito...

Clare Foran, Morgan Rimmer and Ted Barrett, CNN

Mitch McConnell to step down from GOP leadership position in the Senate

Mitch McConnell will step down as GOP leader in November, the Kentucky Republican announced on the Senate floor Wednesday.

4 days ago

Soldiers carry the coffin of Ukrainian poet and serviceman Maksym Kryvtsov who was killed in action...

Stephanie Halasz and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Zelensky warns ‘millions will be killed’ without US aid to Kyiv, as Ukrainian troop deaths reach at least 31,000

“Millions” could die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request.

7 days ago

Kathy Brandel and her husband of 27 years, Ralph Hendry...

Sharif Paget, Chris Boyette and Polo Sandoval, CNN

Family of Americans believed dead after yacht allegedly hijacked in Grenada describe scene of violence

The family of two Americans who may have been killed in an alleged yacht high jacking in Granada hope the couple might be found alive.

7 days ago

Police tape drapes the crime scene on a trail behind Lake Herrick at the University of Georgia in A...

Ashley R. Williams, Raja Razek, Priscilla Alvarez, Isabel Rosales and Jaide Timm-Garcia, CNN

Questions remain in investigation of death of Augusta University student found on UGA campus

As the investigation continues into the death of an Augusta University student, officials confirmed the immigration status of a suspect.

7 days ago

Kenneth Mitchell, here in 2018, has died....

Megan Thomas, CNN

Kenneth Mitchell, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Marvel’ actor, dead at 49

A native of Canada, Mitchell acquired more than 50 film and television credits over the course of his acting career. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2019.

8 days ago

Charles E. Escalera, 21...

Michelle Watson and Maria Sole Campinoti, CNN

Kentucky man arrested in connection with death of Campbellsville University student

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a student at Campbellsville University in Kentucky.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

North Korea claims to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone