Recent North Korean military exercises, monitored by South Korea and the United States, included a new North Korean AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) that North Korea later revealed could be used with a nuclear or conventional warhead. Called “Haeil” (tsunami), this was the first open sea test of the system. North Korea described the new AUV as designed to make sneak attacks against enemy ports or ships at sea. Haeil will purportedly be towed by a surface ship to the location it will be launched from or launched from a North Korean port. If a nuclear warhead is used, it is purportedly supposed to produce a radioactive tidal wave in enemy ports or destroy ships at sea with a large radioactive shock wave. There are no pictures of Haeil although one recent photo showed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un standing next to a large torpedo shaped object. Haeil is similar in function to the new Russian Poseidon torpedo, which is armed with a large nuclear weapon and launched from a modified nuclear submarine. This sub can carry four to eight Poseidons, attached to the outside of the sub. Russia claims Poseidon is armed with a new two-megaton nuclear warhead that detonates underwater, creating a tidal wave of radioactive water that hits enemy ports. Poseidon can travel several thousand kilometers underwater, using a nuclear propulsion system. Russia considers Poseidon a terror weapon and it is unclear if any are available with the new nuclear warhead. Poseidon had not been tested with a conventional warhead to see if it works. For the Russians, the possible existence of such a weapon generates a lot terror, even if it has not been tested.
The new North Korean Haeil AUV was tested. During the exercises the new AUV operated for nearly 60 hours at depths of 80 to 150 meters (260-500 feet) before detonating its explosive warhead. North Korea already uses silos, railroad cars, submarines and large truck mounted launchers to deliver its nuclear weapons. Now there is an AUV. It is uncertain how accurate and reliable the AUV is and the North Koreans would not discuss any possible problems. The AUV requires an accurate and reliable INS (Inertial Navigation System) to work effectively. North Korea is not known to have used such technology in ships before and it is unclear if they have an effective INS system. North Korea is probably still working on the INS system, a technology they have little experience with.