North Korea claims to have successfully tested a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, as the country continues to strengthen its defense capabilities despite the delayed nuclear talks with the United States.
The cruise missiles, which had been under development for two years, successfully targets about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) distant on Saturday and Sunday before falling into North Korean territorial waters, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
The missiles have been lauded by North Korea as a “strategic weapon of great significance” that will help the country’s military power, according to leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang launched a new tactical short-range ballistic missile in March, the most recent known missile test. In late January, it also launched a cruise missile test, only hours after US President Joe Biden assumed office.
“This would be the first cruise missile in North Korea to be explicitly designated a ‘strategic’ role,” said Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “This is a common euphemism for nuclear-capable system.”
Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, told journalists that Tokyo was “concerned” about news of the test and that the country will closely watch the issue with the US and South Korea.
The test “highlights North Korea’s continued focus on expanding its military program and the challenges it poses to its neighbors and the international community,” according to the US Indo-Pacific Command. It emphasized the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to South Korea and Japan’s defense.
Yonhap news agency, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) stated an in-depth examination was underway in close cooperation with US intelligence, but declined to verify details.
According to KCNA, the missile is a strategic weapon that has been created over the last two years and is a significant part of a five-year plan to strengthen defense research and arsenals that was announced in January.
Detailed tests of missile parts, scores of engine ground thrust tests, various flight tests, control and guidance tests, warhead power tests, etc were conducted with success,” it said.