SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean military raised the possibility Monday that North Korea's claim of a recent "underwater nuclear attack drone" test may have been exaggerated, while noting its development appears to be at an "early" stage.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) gave an assessment on the North's new weapon amid growing concerns over whether the South and the United States are fully ready to counter emerging threats from the North's new weapons systems.
Last week, the North's state media said the country had tested the weapon capable of spawning a "radioactive tsunami" and that it cruised at an underwater depth of 80 to 150 meters in the East Sea for 59 hours and 12 minutes.
"Having pieced together the South Korea-U.S. analysis of the 'underwater nuclear attack drone' as well as expert views on it, our military is putting weight to the possibility that the claim might have been exaggerated or fabricated," the JCS said in a statement.
"There have been movements indicating the North has been working to develop an unmanned undersea vehicle, but our assessment is that it is still at an early (development) stage," it added.
The JCS stressed the South and the U.S. will keep close tabs on "various" threats from the North and maintain a "firm" combined defense posture.
The North claimed the drone was designed to "stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami" to destroy naval striker groups and major ports of its enemies, and it can be deployed "at any coast and port or towed by a surface ship for operation."