Breaking
March 3, 2024

North Korea Claims Successful Test of Underwater Nuclear Drone System

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 19, 2024

North Korea announced on Thursday that it has successfully tested a new underwater nuclear drone system, which it says is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and destroying ports and vessels. The test comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula following recent joint naval drills by the US, South Korea, and Japan.

North Korea Says Test was in Response to Rival Naval Drills

According to North Korea’s state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the test of the “Haeil-23” underwater nuclear drone system was conducted on Wednesday as a direct response to recent naval drills by the US and its allies seen as provocative by Pyongyang:

“The DPRK’s genuine peace-loving efforts have faced only challenges from the hostile forces’ vicious provocations aimed at stifling it. This has further hardened our determination to develop the national defense capabilities.” [1]

The US, South Korea, and Japan conducted a joint anti-submarine warfare exercise from January 16-20, which included the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. [2] North Korea sees such military cooperation and naval deployments near the Korean peninsula as preparations for war and an existential threat.

Analysts say North Korea timed the test to maximize political impact, taking advantage of the presence of the Reagan in the region and vowing further development of its nuclear forces. [3]

Haeil-23 Drone Part of Expanding Nuclear Arsenal

Details remain scarce about the underwater drone North Korea tested this week, but KCNA said it was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead:

“The test-fire clearly proved the reliability of the detonation system, the nuclear fission explosion device and the accuracy of wire guidance.” [4]

North Korea released photos showing leader Kim Jong Un supervising the test [5], but specific capabilities like range, speed, and size of any warhead the Haeil-23 can carry are still unknown publicly.

The drone launch and test is part of Kim Jong Un’s five-year plan to rapidly expand North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The plan includes developing solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), spy satellites, and more advanced nuclear bombs. [6]

North Korea has tested a number of new weapons over the last two years like short-range ballistic missiles, long-range cruise missiles, and hypersonic glide vehicles in order to evade regional missile defenses. An underwater nuclear delivery system like the Haeil-23 would be even harder to detect and counter. [7]

International Condemnation of “Reckless” Test

The US, South Korea, Japan, and their allies have been quick to condemn North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test:

Country Reaction
United States “A reckless and deeply destabilizing decision.” [8]
South Korea “A grave provocation that threatens international peace.” [9]
Japan “Absolutely impermissible.” [10]
United Kingdom “A clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.” [11]
France “Profoundly destabilizing for regional security.” [12]

However, critics argue that harsh rhetoric alone has failed to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions or bring Pyongyang back to the negotiation table after talks collapsed in 2019. [13]

Both Western powers and North Korea’s main ally China have called on Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and missile testing and return to diplomacy. But Kim Jong Un said this month that North Korea is no longer bound by his previous self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear devices and ICBMs, which has been in place since 2017. [14]

Risk of Miscalculation and Escalation Remains High

While neither side wants an open military conflict, analysts warn the potential for miscalculation remains high given the increasing tempo of North Korean weapons tests and joint US-South Korean military exercises:

“There is a genuine risk of inadvertent escalation from either side confounding the other amid a crisis or standoff.” [15]

The US and South Korea have warned of a “swift and forceful” response should North Korea conduct an actual nuclear attack, though exactly what that response would entail is unclear. [16]

Fears are growing that 2023 could see an even more provocative step from Pyongyang like another nuclear test – which would be its first since 2017 and seventh overall – or the launch of a long-range ICBM potentially capable of reaching the continental United States. [17]

Either move would mark a major milestone in North Korea’s quest to pose a credible nuclear threat to America and its allies that US military officials believe Pyongyang could achieve as soon as 2027 under its current development timeline. [18]

In the aftermath of this week’s underwater drone test, the risks of events spiraling out of control only seem to be rising. Urgent diplomacy will be needed to cool tensions and restart a genuine dialogue addressing North Korean security concerns and its nuclear program.

References

  1. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2024/01/19/North-Korea-Haeil-23-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system-test/6081705644645/
  2. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/19/north-korea-touts-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system-blasts-us-drills
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68027356
  4. https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2024/01/19/North-Korea-Haeil-23-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system-test/6081705644645/
  5. https://www.eurasiantimes.com/original-images-show-kim-jong-un-inspects-north-koreas-newest-uav/
  6. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/north-koreas-most-advanced-drones-reemerge-solid-fuel-irbm-tested
  7. https://www.dw.com/en/north-korea-says-it-conducted-underwater-nuclear-drone-test/a-68028559
  8. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/19/north-korea-touts-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system-blasts-us-drills
  9. https://m.koreaherald.com/amp/view.php?ud=20240119000442
  10. https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20240119-north-korea-claims-it-tested-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system
  11. https://news.sky.com/story/amp/north-korea-claims-it-has-tested-underwater-nuclear-attack-drone-after-reckless-naval-exercise-by-us-south-korea-and-japan-13051444
  12. https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20240119-north-korea-claims-it-tested-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system
  13. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68027356
  14. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/19/north-korea-touts-underwater-nuclear-weapon-system-blasts-us-drills
  15. https://twitter.com/DerekJGrossman/status/1748193513790128132
  16. https://m.koreaherald.com/amp/view.php?ud=20240119000442
  17. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-68027356
  18. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna134659
AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post