Pyongyang promises to deter ‘hostile military manoeuvres’ after naval exercises between US, South Korea and Japan.
North Korea has tested a nuclear-capable underwater attack drone in response to joint naval exercises involving South Korea, the United States and Japan, state media has said.
Pyongyang tested the “Haeil-5-23″ in waters off the east coast as the US and its allies were “seriously threatening the security” of the country “destabilising the regional situation”, North Korea’s defence ministry said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday.
“Our army’s underwater nuke-based countering posture is being further rounded off and its various maritime and underwater responsive actions will continue to deter the hostile military manoeuvres of the navies of the US and its allies,” the statement said, warning of “catastrophic consequences” for the US and its “followers.”
North Korea last year claimed to have tested the drone twice, touting its ability to carry out sneak attacks and destroy enemies with a “radioactive tsunami” generated by an underwater explosion.
The weapon’s operation has not been independently verified and South Korean officials have said its capabilities are exaggerated.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo earlier this week conducted joint naval drills involving nine warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, off South Korea’s south coast.
The allies announced the drills after Pyongyang said on Sunday it had tested a new solid-fuel missile fitted with a hypersonic warhead.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been elevated in recent months amid Pyongyang’s repeated weapons tests and moves by authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un to roll back efforts towards reconciliation with South Korea.
On Tuesday, state media reported that Kim had ordered the closure of several government bodies dedicated to inter-Korean rapprochement after determining that reunification was no longer possible.
On Thursday, the nuclear envoys of the US, South Korea and Japan gathered in Seoul to condemn Pyongyang’s weapons tests and its trade in armaments with Russia.