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Teenage Mutant
Teenage Mutant

N Korea tests 'underwater nuclear weapons system'


North Korea says it has carried out a test of its "underwater nuclear weapons system" in response to drills by the US, South Korea and Japan this week.


The test of its supposedly nuclear-armed underwater drones took place off its east coast, state media reported.


The North has claimed tests of its "Haeil-5-23" system before but the weapons have never been independently verified.


South Korea and allies have yet to respond to the latest provocation.


But it comes as the North has ramped up military action in recent weeks, including claiming to have deployed a new solid-fuelled intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday.


That followed live-fire drills at the maritime border with South Korea in the first week of January.


Pyongyang leader Kim Jong Un has also been increasingly aggressive in his policy direction and rhetoric - ending several agreements aimed at peace-keeping in recent months.


On Friday, North Korea said it had been provoked by joint drills by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo to carry out a test of its underwater weapons, according to a report by state agency KCNA.


It accused the exercises of "further destabilising the regional situation" and threatening the North's security.


The US, South Korea and Japan say they have conducted more exercises in the past year as a deterrence response to the increasing frequency of North Korea's military actions, which include multiple tests of its nuclear ballistic missiles and launches of new weapons. All such actions are in breach of UN sanctions.


But Mr Kim has repeatedly said his regime is building up its military arsenal in preparation for war that could "break out at any time" on the peninsula.


Over the New Year period, he signalled some fundamental policy shifts in his regime's stance to South Korea.


And earlier this week he declared the former bedrock goal of re-unification with South Korea was over, designating the South as the "principle enemy".


The rhetoric follows several claimed advances in his country's military and nuclear capabilities - including in its underwater operations.


N Korea fires artillery shells towards border island

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Last September, the North revealed what it claimed was its first submarine capable of launching nuclear weapons.


Since March 2023, it has also claimed tests of its Haeil system - unmanned, underwater nuclear-armed drones. Haeil means "tsunami" in Korean.


Little is known about these weapons or their claimed performance but North Korean media has described them as being able to sneak into enemy waters and cause large underwater explosions.


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