By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the country had “significant concerns” and was working with the US and South Korea to monitor the situation.
The US military said the test showed North Korea’s “continuing focus on developing its military program,” adding that its commitment to defending allies South Korea and Japan remained “ironclad.”
Top-level officials from the three countries are due to meet this week to discuss North Korea’s denuclearisation process.
South Korea’s military is also doing an in-depth analysis of the launches with US intelligence authorities, the news agency Yonhap reports.
- Tests involved new, long-range cruise missiles – KCNA
- New missiles represent serious capability for N.Korea – analysts
- U.S. military: Launches highlight threat to N.Korea’s neighbors
- Tests came before meeting by U.S., Japan, S.Korea to discuss N.Korea
SEOUL, Sept 13 (Reuters) – North Korea carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, state media said on Monday, seen by analysts as possibly the country’s first such weapon with a nuclear capability.
The missiles are “a strategic weapon of great significance” and flew 1,500 km (930 miles) before hitting their targets and falling into the country’s territorial waters during the tests on Saturday and Sunday, KCNA said.
The latest test highlighted steady progress in Pyongyang’s weapons program amid gridlock over talks aimed at dismantling the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in return for U.S. sanctions relief. The talks have stalled since 2019.
North Korea’s cruise missiles usually generate less interest than ballistic missiles because they are not explicitly banned under U.N. Nations Security Council Resolutions.
“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 U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “This is a common euphemism for nuclear-capable systems.”
It is unclear whether North Korea has mastered the technology needed to build warheads small enough to be carried on a cruise missile, but leader Kim Jong Un said earlier this year that developing smaller bombs is a top goal.
The two Koreas have been locked in an accelerating arms race that analysts fear will leave the region littered with powerful new missiles.
South Korea’s military did not disclose whether it had detected the North’s latest tests but said on Monday it was conducting detailed analysis in cooperation with the United States.
The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said it was aware of the reports and was coordinating with its allies and partners.
“This activity highlights (North Korea’s) continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbors and the international community,” INDOPACOM said in a statement.
Rodong Sinmun, the ruling Workers’ Party’s official newspaper, ran photos of the new cruise missile flying and being fired from a transporter-erector-launcher.
The test provides “strategic significance of possessing another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military maneuvers of the hostile forces,” KCNA said.
It was seen as the North’s first missile launch after it tested a new tactical short-range ballistic missile in March. North Korea also conducted a cruise missile test just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden took office in late January.