State media KCNA reported on Friday that North Korea conducted an underwater nuclear weapons system test in protest against joint military drills by South Korea, the United States, and Japan this week.
The test involved the “Haeil-5-23” system, North Korea’s name for its nuclear-capable underwater attack drones, carried out by the defense ministry’s think tank off the east coast. The date of the test was not specified in the report.
The ministry’s spokesperson, unnamed in the report, accused the United States, South Korea, and Japan of intensifying military exercises and warned of “catastrophic consequences.”
The joint naval drills involving the three countries, including the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, took place until Wednesday to enhance responses to North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats.
According to the KCNA statement, the North Korean spokesperson emphasized the development of the army’s underwater nuclear counter posture, stating that various maritime and underwater actions would deter hostile military maneuvers by the U.S. and its allies.
The underwater drone system, known as “Haeil,” meaning tsunami, was reportedly first tested in March 2023. It is designed for sneak attacks in enemy waters, aiming to destroy naval strike groups and major operational ports by creating a large radioactive wave through an underwater explosion.
The reported underwater test follows North Korea’s launch of a new intermediate-range, solid-fuel hypersonic missile, condemned by Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo as a serious violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
In addition, the nuclear envoys of the three allies gathered in Seoul on Thursday, condemning North Korea’s arms trade with Russia and its increasingly hostile rhetoric. This occurred as North Korea’s foreign minister visited Moscow and met with President Vladimir Putin.