This undated combined image released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 13, 2021 shows a new type of long-range cruise missile tested on September 11-12, conducted by the DPRK Academy of Defense Sciences.
- North Korea conducted a test firing of a new “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend.
- The United States said the nuclear-armed country threatened its neighbors and beyond.
- Images in the newspaper showed a missile emerging from one of the five tubes of a launch vehicle in a ball of fire and a missile in horizontal flight.
North Korea conducted a test trial of a new “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend, state media reported Monday, and the United States said the nuclear-armed country was threatening its neighbors and beyond. .
Images from the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a missile emerging from one of the five tubes of a launch vehicle in a ball of fire and a missile in horizontal flight.
Such a weapon would represent a marked advance in North Korean weapons technology, analysts said, better able to prevent defense systems from dropping a warhead into the South or Japan, both of which are US allies.
The test launches took place on Saturday and Sunday, the Korean Central News Agency said.
The missiles traveled 1,500 kilometers, two-hour flight paths, including 8-shaped patterns, over North Korea and its territorial waters to reach their targets, according to KCNA.
His report called the missile a “strategic weapon of great importance”, adding that the tests were successful and gave the country “another effective deterrent” against “hostile forces.”
North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which it says it needs to defend against a US invasion.
But Pyongyang is not prohibited from developing cruise missiles, which it has previously tested.
As described, the missile “poses a considerable threat,” Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Women’s University, told AFP.
If the North has sufficiently miniaturized a nuclear warhead, it can also be loaded onto a cruise missile. It is very likely that there will be more tests for the development of various weapons systems.
The launch was a response to joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States last month, he said.
But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to visit Seoul on Tuesday, and Park added: “By choosing cruise missiles, North Korea is trying not to provoke the United States and China too much.”
Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies tweeted that the reported missiles would be capable of launching a warhead at targets “in South Korea and Japan.”
“An intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea,” he added.
“This is another system that is designed to fly under or around missile defense radars.”
The South Korean military, normally the first source of information on North Korea’s missile tests, had not announced any launches over the weekend.
They said they were analyzing developments.
In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the reports highlighted North Korea’s “continued focus on developing its military programs and the threats it poses to its neighbors and the international community.”
He reiterated that the United States’ commitment to defend South Korea, where it stationed around 28,500 soldiers to protect it against its neighbor, and Japan “remains firm.”
The reported launches are the first since March by the North, which has not conducted a nuclear test or ICBM launch since 2017.
They arrived days after a reduced parade in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the country.
Nuclear talks with the United States have stalled since the collapse of a 2019 summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-President Donald Trump on easing sanctions, and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
Current US President Joe Biden’s North Korean envoy Sung Kim has repeatedly expressed his willingness to meet with his Pyongyang counterparts “anywhere, anytime.”
But the impoverished North has never shown any indication that it is willing to surrender its nuclear arsenal and has rebuffed South Korea’s efforts to reignite the dialogue.
Last month, the UN atomic agency (IAEA) said Pyongyang appeared to have started its plutonium-producing reprocessing reactor at Yongbyon, calling it a “deeply disturbing” development.
Kim’s sister and key adviser, Kim Yo Jong, also demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula.
Last week, South Korea tested a submarine-launched homegrown ballistic missile, a technology the North has long sought to develop.
North Korea displayed four of those devices at a military parade supervised by Kim in January, and KCNA called them “the most powerful weapon in the world.”
North Korea has released images of submarine launches, the most recent in 2019.
But analysts believe it was from a fixed platform or submersible barge, rather than a submarine.
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