North Korea claimed on Saturday it had tested another underwater nuclear attack drone, in its latest response to South Korean and United States military drills, though analysts have questioned whether Pyongyang has such a weapon.
In recent weeks, North Korea has tested what state media have described as an underwater nuclear-capable drone, and also carried out the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“A national defence science research institute in the DPRK carried out a test of underwater strategic weapon system from April 4 to 7,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.
“The underwater nuclear attack drone ‘Haeil-2’… cruised 1,000 km of simulated underwater distance … for 71 hours and 6 minutes.”
KCNA added that “the test warhead accurately detonated underwater. The test perfectly proved the reliability of the underwater strategic weapon system and its fatal attack ability”.
North Korea has claimed to have conducted three tests of underwater drones in less than three weeks so far.
On March 23, it claimed to have conducted the first test of the Haeil, which means tsunami in Korean, able to unleash a “radioactive tsunami” as it blamed US-South Korea exercises for a deteriorating regional security situation. Five days later it said it had carried out a second test.
In response, South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup told MPs Seoul was “capable of monitoring and detecting such drones infiltrating underwater”.
Satellite imagery has also indicated a high level of activity at North Korea’s main nuclear complex after leader Kim Jong Un ordered that the production of weapons-grade nuclear material be ramped up.