Anchor: North Korea’s state media announced on Friday that the military ran nuclear exercises involving a new underwater drone as well as cruise missiles earlier in the week. Regime leader Kim Jong-un personally supervised the drills, flexing his military’s ability to launch attacks in the air and sea, at a time when South Korea and the U.S. were holding their joint springtime “Freedom Shield” training.
Tom McCarthy has more.
Report: North Korea released footage on Friday of its recent nuclear attack exercises it said were conducted throughout the week under the guidance of leader Kim Jong-un.
[Sound bite: Korean Central Television footage of missile launch]
The footage from the Korean Central Television showed the launch of what the North’s state media said were four strategic cruise missiles on Wednesday in an exercise practicing the execution of a tactical nuclear attack mission, with test payloads standing in for nuclear warheads.
The revelation came a day after South Korea and the U.S. wrapped up their
eleven-day joint springtime “Freedom Shield,” which featured their largest field combat training in years.
Pyongyang claimed in its latest report that its cruise missiles used were two “Hwasal-1” types and two “Hwasal-2” types that were launched from South Hamgyong Province and flew 15-hundred and 18-hundred kilometers, respectively, before hitting a preset target in the East Sea.
The state media also claimed that a new underwater nuclear weapon was tested by the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party from Tuesday to Thursday.
The report said that its “underwater attack drone” was deployed off the coast of Riwon County in South Hamgyong Province on Tuesday.
The drone reportedly traveled for 59 hours and 12 minutes in an oval and figure-eight course at a depth of 80 to 150 meters below the surface before reaching a target off Hongwon Bay on Thursday afternoon and detonating a test warhead.
South Korea’s top spy agency National Intelligence Service released a report earlier this month that the North may use drones and other unmanned assets to instigate attacks on South Korea and its allies.
The media touted the test results for verifying the reliability and safety of the drone as well as proving its lethal strike capability.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said after the announcement on Friday that Seoul and Washington are continuously tracking Pyongyang's arms development and evaluating the latest claim with various possibilities on the table.
The JCS added that it is considering the possibility that the North exaggerated its claim that mock nuclear warheads were loaded onto the cruise missiles fired on Wednesday.
Tom McCarthy, KBS World Radio News.