North Korea has claimed that it successfully tested a new type of underwater nuclear strategic weapon that can create a “radioactive tsunami” and destroy enemy naval forces and ports. The test was personally guided by leader Kim Jong-un and took place earlier this week off the east coast of North Korea.
According to North Korea’s state media KCNA, the weapon, named “Haeil” (Korean for tsunami), was put into position and detonated on Thursday afternoon after cruising for over 59 hours at a depth of 80 to 150 meters. The weapon is designed to stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a “super-scale” radioactive wave through underwater explosion.
KCNA said that the weapon has been in development since 2012 and has undergone more than 50 tests in the past two years. The latest test “verified its reliability and safety and fully confirmed its lethal strike capability,” KCNA said, adding that the weapon can be deployed from any coast and port or towed by a surface ship for operation.
The test came as North Korea also fired two strategic cruise missiles on Wednesday “tipped with a test warhead simulating a nuclear warhead,” according to KCNA. The missiles flew for about 1,500 kilometers before hitting their targets in waters off North Korea’s west coast.
The missile launches were seen as a show of force by North Korea amid ongoing tensions with South Korea and the United States over its nuclear weapons program. The US and South Korea concluded their largest joint field exercises in five years on Wednesday, which Pyongyang denounced as a rehearsal for invasion.
North Korea’s claim of testing an underwater nuclear strategic weapon drew skepticism from some analysts who questioned its feasibility and effectiveness. They pointed out that North Korea offered no proof of its claim and that it would be difficult to allocate limited fissile material for such a weapon instead of more reliable ballistic missiles.
Some analysts also suggested that North Korea’s claim could be an attempt at deception or psychological warfare to intimidate its adversaries and boost its bargaining power in future negotiations. They noted that North Korea’s purported new weapon resembles Russia’s Poseidon torpedo, which is also said to be capable of creating radioactive tsunamis but has not been proven yet.
However, other analysts warned against dismissing North Korea’s claim too quickly, saying that Pyongyang has surprised the world before with its technological advances in nuclear weapons and missiles. They urged caution and vigilance from South Korea and the US as they seek to engage with North Korea diplomatically while deterring its provocations militarily.