North Korea says it tested two nuclear-capable cruise missiles | Weapons News

State media say the tests were overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who has made obtaining tactical nuclear weapons a priority.

North Korea has tested a pair of long-range strategic cruise missiles, with leader Kim Jong Un hailing another successful demonstration of the country’s tactical nuclear strike capability.

Thursday morning, the official KCNA news agency reported that the test, which took place on Wednesday, aims to “enhance the combat efficiency and ability” of cruise missiles deployed in the KPA to “operate tactical nuclear bombs.”

It was the latest in a series of weapons launches that have heightened tension on the divided Korean peninsula and raised fears that Pyongyang may be on the verge of conducting its first nuclear test in five years.

The cruise missiles traveled 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) over the sea, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the projectiles hit their intended but unspecified targets.

A cruise missile launched from a launcher in a cloud of smoke and flames
Cruise missile launches are not as closely monitored as ballistic missile launches, but analysts say that in the event of a conflict they could carry conventional or nuclear warheads. [KCNA/KNS via AFP]

Stressing that the test was another clear warning to “enemies”, Kim said the country “should continue to expand the operational space of the strategic nuclear armed forces to deter any military crisis and decisive war crisis at any time and take the full lead in it,” according to the agency. Korean Central News.

A US State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the launches, saying that Washington remains focused on coordinating with allies and partners to counter the threats posed by North Korea.

On Monday, North Korea’s state media reported that Kim oversaw two weeks of guided nuclear tactical exercises, including the test of a new medium-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launched over Japan in protest of South Korea’s recent joint naval exercises. and the United States that included the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.

Error rejecting tests

North Korea’s state media once routinely reported on weapons tests in the country but has stopped doing so in recent months.

Analysts say that while the latest “propaganda deluge” cannot be trusted, the tests should not be ignored.

North Korea’s cruise missiles, air force, and tactical nuclear devices may be far less capable than the propaganda suggests. “It would be a mistake to dismiss North Korea’s recent wave of weapons tests as noisy or noisy,” Leif Eric Easley, a professor at Eha University in Seoul, wrote in comments via email.

Military threats to Pyongyang are a persistent and worsening problem to peace and stability in Asia and should not be ignored. Policymakers in Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington should not allow domestic politics and other challenges such as Russia’s war in Ukraine to prevent them from increasing international coordination on military deterrence and economic sanctions.

North Korean cruise missiles typically generate less interest than ballistic weapons because they are not expressly prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Kim made obtaining tactical nuclear weapons — smaller, lighter and designed for battlefield use — a priority at the main party convention in January 2021 and first tested a “strategic” cruise missile in September of that year.

Analysts said it was the country’s first nuclear-capable weapon and was a worrying development because in the event of a conflict it might not be clear whether it carried a conventional or nuclear warhead.

The country revised its nuclear laws last month to allow for preemptive attacks, with Kim declaring North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear power, effectively ending the possibility of negotiations over its arsenal.

President Joe Biden unveiled the latest update to the United States’ National Security Strategy on Wednesday but it contained only one reference to North Korea.

This was astonishing, said Daniel Russell, the top US diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, “not only because it passes so quickly after a persistent threat and presence, but also because he frames the strategy as ‘seeking sustainable diplomacy toward denuclearization’. ., “When North Korea convincingly demonstrated its total rejection of negotiations.”

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