New Delhi, Jan 19 : North Korea has announced the successful testing of its "underwater nuclear weapons system" in response to joint military exercises conducted by the United States, South Korea, and Japan. The purported underwater drone, capable of carrying a nuclear payload, underwent testing off the east coast, as reported by state media.
However, there is a lack of independent verification, and South Korea has previously dismissed North Korea's assertions about the capabilities of these drones as exaggerated.
The United States, South Korea, and Japan argue that their joint exercises over the past year serve as a deterrence response to the growing frequency of North Korea's military actions, including nuclear ballistic missile tests and the introduction of new weapons, all of which violate UN sanctions.
South Korea has condemned the reported tests, labelling them a "provocation" that poses a threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula and globally. The country's defence ministry emphasized its commitment to responding "in an overwhelming manner" if directly provoked by North Korea, following the principles of immediate, strong, and terminal action.
North Korea has previously claimed tests of its "Haeil-5-23" system, but this latest incident coincides with an escalation of military activities in recent weeks. Pyongyang announced the deployment of a new solid-fuelled intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday.
Additionally, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has exhibited an increasingly aggressive policy direction and rhetoric, terminating several peacekeeping agreements in recent months.
North Korea first revealed its purported capability to launch nuclear weapons from submarines in September of the previous year. Since March 2023, the country has claimed multiple tests of its Haeil system, described as unmanned underwater nuclear-armed drones.