On Saturday, North Korea claimed that it had tested a second type of nuclear-capable underwater attack drone. A drone that is designed to destroy naval vessels and ports.
This adds to a series of weapons demonstrations this year that have heightened tensions with rivals.
They called for stronger international efforts to crack down on illicit North Korean activities that fund its weapons program.
According to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, the drone, named “Haeil-2,” which means tsunamis or tidal waves in Korean, successfully traveled underwater for more than 71 hours.
It then detonated a mock warhead in waters near the eastern port city of Tanchon on Friday. KCNA stated that the test proved the weapon’s “fatal attack ability” to strike targets 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away.
North Korean state media last month reported two tests of another drone, named “Haeil-1,” and described the weapon as capable of setting off a “radioactive tsunami” to destroy enemy vessels and ports.
Analysts, however, are skeptical whether such a device would add a meaningful new threat to North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal built around missiles and whether it’s reasonable for the North to pursue such capabilities considering its still-limited supplies of nuclear bomb fuel. South Korea’s military has said it believes North Korean claims about Haeil-1 were likely “exaggerated or fabricated.”
On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden’s special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul where they issued a joint statement calling for stronger international support to stem North Korean efforts to evade U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons ambitions.
The envoys expressed particular concern about North Korea’s cybercrimes and illicit labor exports, which Seoul says could possibly expand as it further reopens its borders as COVID-19 fears ease.
North Korea in 2023 alone fired around 30 missiles in 11 different launch events, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that demonstrated potential range to reach the U.S. mainland. And several shorter-range weapons designed to deliver nuclear strikes on South Korean targets.