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North Korea conducts test of ‘underwater nuclear strategic weapon'

A file image of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un witnessing a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile in mid-March 2023. North Korea has since test-fired more weapon systems, including what it claims to be an ‘underwater nuclear strategic weapon'. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

North Korea has tested an unmanned ‘underwater nuclear strategic weapon' system that can inflict ‘radioactive tsunamis' on coastal areas, state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced on 24 March.

Tests of the earlier unknown weapon were conducted between 21 and 23 March off Riwon County in North Korea's South Hamgyŏng province. The weapon struck its simulated objective after travelling submerged at depths of between 80 and 150 m for 59 hours and 12 minutes, the agency said.

“The mission of the underwater nuclear strategic weapon is to stealthily approach [the enemy's] operational zones and cause a powerful radioactive tsunami with an underwater explosion such that it will destroy enemy ships and disrupt port operations,” reads the KCNA announcement.

“The nuclear unmanned attack craft can be deployed against any coast, ports, or surface vessels in offensive operations,” it added.

According to KCNA, the weapon has been under development since 2012 and was first reported in confidence to the political bureau of the Workers' Party of Korea at its eighth congress in 2021. The weapon has also undergone multiple tests over the past two years.

As a result of its latest test, the weapon's technical parameters, navigational capabilities, and safety features were successfully validated, and its strike capabilities can be confirmed, the agency added.

Besides the underwater weapon, North Korea disclosed that it has also conducted tests of several cruise missiles that can be tipped with nuclear warheads.

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