West News Wire: North Korea claimed on Saturday that it tested this week a second type of known underwater attack drone with nuclear capability that is intended to strike naval vessels and ports, adding to a barrage of weaponry displays this year that have ratcheted up tensions with rivals. 

The four-day test was reported the day after the nuclear envoys of the US, South Korea, and Japan met in Seoul to discuss the rising nuclear danger from North Korea and to ask for further international action to crack down on the illegal North Korean activities fueling its weapons development. 

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the drone, named “Haeil-2” after a Korean word meaning tsunamis or tidal waves, traveled underwater for more than 71 hours before successfully detonating a mock warhead in waters near the eastern port city of Tanchon on Friday. KCNA said the test proved that the weapon could strike targets 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away with “fatal attack ability.” 

North Korean state media last month reported two tests of another drone, named “Haeil-1,” and described the weapon as capable of setting off a “radioactive tsunami” to destroy enemy vessels and ports. 

Analysts, however, are skeptical whether such a device would add a meaningful new threat to North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal built around missiles and whether it’s reasonable for the North to pursue such capabilities considering its still-limited supplies of nuclear bomb fuel. South Korea’s military has said it believes North Korean claims about Haeil-1 were likely “exaggerated or fabricated.” 

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On Friday, President Joe Biden’s special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul where they issued a joint statement calling for stronger international support to stem North Korean efforts to evade U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons ambitions. 

The envoys expressed particular concern about North Korea’s cybercrimes and illicit labor exports, which Seoul says could possibly expand as it further reopens its borders as COVID-19 fears ease. 

North Korea in 2023 alone fired around 30 missiles in 11 different launch events, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that demonstrated potential range to reach the U.S. mainland and several shorter-range weapons designed to deliver nuclear strikes on South Korean targets. 


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