North Korea has carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, according to the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The “newly-developed long-range cruise missiles” flew 1,500 kilometers over North Korean territory before successfully hitting their targets.
The missiles reportedly flew for over two hours before hitting their targets and falling into the country’s territorial waters during the tests held on Saturday and Sunday, KCNA said.
Stating that the weapons had been in development for two years, KCNA said that the missiles demonstrate “another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military maneuvers of the hostile forces against the DPRK.
Even though the report said several top North Korean leaders and scientists were present for the launches, there was no mention of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being present during the test-fire.
However, the US and neighboring South Korea said they are looking into the launch claims. Speaking to CNN, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, “Cruise missiles are often detected after the tests are conducted for their low flight altitudes. North Korea had conducted two cruise missile tests already this year, but we did not disclose them as we do not disclose all cruise missile tests we detect.”
This test-fire 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.
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.
“That’s not because ballistic missiles are somehow more threatening than cruise missiles,” Jeffrey Lewis, a missile researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said on Twitter. “It’s because the architects of the resolutions lacked the imagination of Kim Jong Un and his Academy of Defense Sciences.”