- Nov 4, 2011
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North Korea reveals undersea drone able to trigger ‘radioactive tsunamis’ on USKim Jong Un also reportedly oversaw cruise missile tests in warning to allies of ‘actual nuclear crisis’ on peninsula
Colin Zwirko March 24, 2023
Kim Jong Un smiles next to what state media described as an underwater drone designed to create "super-scale radioactive tsunamis" | Image: KCNA (March 24, 2023)
North Korea revealed a homegrown “underwater nuclear attack drone” for the first time via state media Friday and reported on cruise missile tests guided by leader Kim Jong Un in recent days, warning the U.S. and South Korea that an “actual nuclear crisis” is at hand.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) stated that the underwater drone is named “Haeil” (해일) and that its mission 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 report comes a day after the U.S. and South Korea wrapped up 11 days of Freedom Shield large-scale joint military exercises, and as the allies announced their “largest-ever” live-fire drills are scheduled for June.
According to KCNA on Friday, Kim Jong Un “seriously warned the enemies once again that they should stop the reckless anti-DPRK war drills.”
He also reportedly ordered his military to “take offensive actions to make the enemy realize the DPRK’s unlimited nuclear war deterrence capability being bolstered up at a greater speed.”
The second of two photos published by state media Friday showing Kim inspecting the “Haeil” UUV. Displays of technical drawings in the background appear to have been intentionally blurred. | Image: KCNA (March 24, 2023)
UNDERWATER NUCLEAR DRONE
KCNA reported Friday that Kim Jong Un personally oversaw 29 tests of the new Haeil unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) in secret since its development began in 2012, and that the recent late-December party plenum decided on its “operational deployment.”
The Haeil UUV may be the weapon referred to at the Jan. 2021 party congress as an “underwater-launch nuclear strategic weapon” under development.
In the most recent test on Thursday, the UUV reportedly detonated a warhead underwater against a mock enemy port off Hongwon Bay between the east coast cities of Hamhung and Sinpho, after “cruising along an oval and pattern-8 course at an underwater depth of 80 to 150 meters [262 to 492 feet] in the East Sea of Korea for 59 hours and 12 minutes.”
The test “verified its reliability and safety and fully confirmed its lethal strike capability,” according to KCNA.
Two photos showed Kim inspecting a partially-visible cylindrical device in a factory or warehouse with a diameter roughly similar to his height, while other photos showed an object cruising underwater near the surface and an explosion above water. State media did not reveal its shape and look in detail.
Ankit Panda, Stanton Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told NK News that the surprise UUV reveal “fits into Pyongyang’s broader ongoing efforts to diversify its means of nuclear weapons delivery.”
However, he said questions remain over “just how serious this program really is” and that the system “will be vulnerable to anti-submarine warfare efforts, particularly in waters away from the North Korean coastline.”
CRUISE MISSILE TESTS
State media on Friday also offered its first official details on cruise missile tests South Korea said it detected on Wednesday, while showing the first video footage of what it calls the nuclear-capable “Hwasal-1” and “Hwasal-2” models.
Similar to a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) test last Sunday, KCNA reported the March 22 cruise missile test involved operational, procedural and technical training including “authenticating the nuclear attack order and the launch approval system.”
Kim Jong Un with top MGB official Kim Jong Sik (left) and top political officials Ri Il Hwan (far left) and Jo Yong Won (right) | Image: KCNA (March 24, 2023)
A test launch from Kim Jong Un’s private mansion beach of what DPRK state media described as a nuclear-capable “Hwasal-2″ cruise missile | Image: KCNA (March 24, 2023)
Loaded with “test warheads simulating a nuclear warhead,” they reportedly detonated in the air 1,968 feet (600 meters) above their targets, verifying “operational reliability of nuclear explosion control devices and detonators.” North Korea reportedly launched a KN-23 SRBM that tested similar systems and detonated mid-air on Sunday.
The black Hwasal-1 missile flew for almost 152 minutes on “pre-programmed” oval and figure-8 patterns covering a distance of 932 miles (1,500 km), while the white Hwasal-2 traveled 1,118 miles (1,800 km) for a few seconds longer.
Korean Central Television (KCTV) aired video footage Friday morning showing missiles flying low over the coastline and following each other, but it did not show them detonating.
Both appeared to be launched by Missile General Bureau (MGB) troops from Kim Jong Un’s private beach in front of one of his luxurious mansion compounds at Majon near Hamhung — used for past missile tests as well — and reportedly hit targets in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
North Korea last tested the Hwasal-2 system in late February, while it was unclear which cruise missile was used for the country’s first launch of such a missile from a submarine earlier this month.
North Korea revealed a homegrown “underwater nuclear attack drone” for the first time via state media Friday and reported on cruise missile tests guided by leader Kim Jong Un in recent days, warning the U.S. and South Korea that an “actual nuclear crisis” is at hand. The Korean Central News...