North Korea claimed Friday to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone designed to generate a gigantic "radioactive tsunami" that would destroy naval strike groups and ports. Analysts were skeptical that the device presents a major new threat, but the test underlines the North's commitment to raising nuclear threats, the AP reports. The testing of the purported "nuclear underwater attack drone" was part of a three-day exercise that simulated nuclear attacks on unspecified South Korean targets, which also included cruise missile launches on Wednesday. The tests came as the United States reportedly planned to deploy aircraft carrier strike groups and other advanced assets to waters off the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the new weapon, which can be deployed from the coast or towed by surface ships, is built to "stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami through an underwater explosion to destroy naval strike groups and major operational ports of the enemy." The North Korean report came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged to make North Korea pay for its "reckless provocations" as he attended a remembrance service honoring 55 South Korean troops killed during major clashes with the North near their western sea border in past years.
KCNA said that the drills were supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who condemned US-South Korean drills that finished Thursday as invasion rehearsals and vowed to make his rivals "plunge into despair." The drone is named "Haeil," a Korean word meaning tidal waves or tsunami. KCNA said the North’s latest tests were aimed at alerting the United States and South Korea of a brewing "nuclear crisis" as they continue with their "intentional, persistent and provocative war drills." KCNA said North Korea's latest drills verified the operational reliability of the drone, which it said the North has been developing since 2012 and tested more 50 times in the past two years, although the weapon was never mentioned in state media until Friday.
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