North Korea says it tested ‘underwater nuclear weapon system’

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says it had tested an “underwater nuclear weapon system” in response to joint naval exercises by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo that involved a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

The drills were “seriously threatening the security” of the North, so in response, Pyongyang “conducted an important test of its underwater nuclear weapon system ‘Haeil-5-23’ under development in the East Sea of Korea,” according to a statement from the defense ministry carried by state news agency KCNA.

The test of the “Haeil-5-23” system, a name North Korea has given to its nuclear-capable underwater attack drones, was carried out by the defense ministry’s think tank in the waters off its east coast, the report stated, without specifying a date.

“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 maneuvers of the navies of the US and its allies,” an unnamed spokesman of the ministry said in a statement, according to KCNA.

Early last year, Pyongyang said it had carried out multiple tests of a purported underwater nuclear attack drone — a different version of the Haeil, which means tsunami in Korean — claiming it could unleash a “radioactive tsunami”.

Analysts have questioned whether Pyongyang has such a weapon.

Earlier this week, South Korea, the United States and Japan carried out joint naval drills in waters off southern Jeju Island, which they said were in response to North Korea’s Sunday launch of a hypersonic missile.

The drills involved nine warships from the three countries, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

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