Seoul — North Korea said on Monday it successfully test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missiles over the weekend, raising the anxiety of neighboring countries and the United States.
North Korea Calls Test of New Long-Range Cruise Missiles a Success
The test launches were the first in six months and took place on Saturday and Sunday after two years of research, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
KCNA called it a “strategic weapon of great significance,” a term used to indicate that the new guided missiles have the potential to carry nuclear warheads, according to experts.
South Korea did not initially confirm the tests, but its military Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said they were working with the United States to investigate the claims.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said the situation was being monitored in close coordination with the allies. However, this latest activity made it clear that North Korea remained “focused on developing its military program,” it said, adding that it also showed Pyongyang's “threats to its neighbors and the international community.”
Japan, which is in range of the missiles, expressed concern. North Korea's behavior “endangers peace and security in the region,” said government spokesman Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo.
China's Foreign Ministry called on all sides to exercise restraint and “engage in dialogue” to resolve differences.
North Korea is subject to international sanctions due to its nuclear weapons program. UN resolutions prohibit the testing of ballistic missiles, but long-range cruise missiles, which use their own permanent propulsion, are not subject to sanctions against the country.
The weekend tests reportedly saw the guided missiles fly for two hours and six minutes on an oval trajectory over the North Korean mainland and waters.
State media published photos showing a projectile fired from a missile launch vehicle and a winged missile in flight. The missiles hit their targets in the sea, some 1,500 kilometers away, according to the report.
The development of the weapons system would ensure the “security of our state and strongly contain the military actions of hostile forces” against North Korea, KCNA wrote.
This is not the first test of a cruise missile by North Korea, expert Ankit Panda wrote on Twitter: “But it is North Korea's first long-range (1,000 km+) cruise missile and the first claimed nuclear-capable cruise missile.”
While the country itself has not explicitly called the cruise missiles nuclear-capable, “analysts know what North Korea means when it says ‘strategic',” Panda wrote.
The latest North Korean weapons test came after the annual joint military exercises between US and South Korean forces, which ended on August 26. The nine-day exercises were heavily criticized by Pyongyang.
North Korea carried out cruise missile tests in March after a similar military exercise in South Korea.
Since leader Kim Jong Un's failed summit with former US President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February 2019, talks on halting the country's missile program have stalled.
At a party congress earlier this year, Kim announced his country would continue to pursue a path of nuclear deterrence with new weapons, including new intercontinental ballistic missiles.
North Korea reportedly held a night-time military parade early Thursday in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of its founding. The country often uses anniversaries to showcase its military strength.
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Article Source: NewsEdge