North Korea tests submersible capable of causing 'radioactive tsunami'
Explosion during the Haeil submersible test conducted by North Korea in March 2023. Photo: KCNA

North Korea tested a submersible carrying a nuclear warhead that can create a “radioactive tsunami” in response to exercises by the US and its allies.

“The North Korean Academy of Defense Sciences has conducted an important test with the Haeil-5-23 nuclear weapons complex in the eastern sea. Measures to counter hostile actions by the US and its allies will maintained,” North Korea’s central news agency KCNA announced today.

Haeil (Tsunami) is an unmanned submersible that North Korea announced last year. Pyongyang said the submersible specializes in carrying out secret attacks on enemy waters by detonating nuclear warheads underwater, creating a “radioactive tsunami” that destroys warships and targets on shore.

North Korean media said that the Haeil-5-23 test was in response to naval exercises by the US, South Korea and Japan off the coast of Jeju Island in the past 3 days, including the participation of the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and the cruiser USS Princeton.

“The training activity was conducted after the US, Japan and South Korea developed a multi-year trilateral training plan, which was the reason for regional instability and a serious threat to the national security of North Korea. We strongly condemn the reckless actions of the US and its allies,” KCNA said.

Officials in the US, Japan and South Korea have not commented on the information.

Haeil’s operating principle is similar to the Poseidon super torpedo, an unmanned submersible vessel (USV) developed by Russia with the ability to carry a powerful nuclear warhead equivalent to two million tons of TNT explosives.

Pyongyang, in March 2023, announced that Haeil had moved at a depth of 80-150 m for 59 consecutive hours before detonating a non-nuclear test warhead in the country’s eastern sea.

Ankit Panda, an expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in the US, said that North Korea is developing many different methods of deploying nuclear weapons to ensure deterrence and the ability to respond in case of emergency. 

“Pyongyang has placed missiles on launch wells, trains, submarines and mobile launchers, and now also adds unmanned submersibles to the list of strategic deterrent weapons,” he said.

However, some experts are still skeptical about North Korea‘s claim to own unmanned submersibles equipped with nuclear warheads, especially when the country has not demonstrated the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads for installation.