The state media reported that North Korea had tested a new Long- Range Cruise Missile that is capable of hitting most of Japan. According to KCNA, the tests, staged on the weekend, witnessed the missiles travel as far as 1,500 km (930 miles) away before falling into the North’s territorial waters.
North Korea has continued to expand its military capabilities amidst stalled Nuclear conversations with the United States. The new tests did not violate the UN Security Council Resolutions, as they have led to tough sanctions on the country in the past.
The new tests also suggest that the country is capable enough to develop new weapons despite an economic crisis. The North hailed the new weapons as ‘strategic weapon of great significance’ that meet leader Kim Jong Un’s expectations and call to strengthen the nation’s military might.
The tests of the cruise missile provides “strategic significance of possessing another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military manoeuvres of the hostile forces" ,the KCNA reported.
The last known missile test conducted by Pyongyang was in March, when it launched a tactical short range Ballistic Missile. It also conducted a Cruise Missile test, hours after the US President Joe Biden assumed office in January 2021.
Ankit Panda, a senior at the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, observed that this is the first missile in North Korea that was explicitly designated a ‘strategic’ role. “This is a common expression for a nuclear capable system.”
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, expressed concerns over the reports of the tests. He is said to be closely working with the US and South Korean governments to monitor the situation.
The American military also expressed its concerns, “the tests show that North Korea continues to focus on developing its military programme, and poses a threat to its neighbours and international communities.” They further added that the US's commitment to defend allies Japan and South Korea remains “ironclad.”
South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) said that, an in-depth analysis of the missile launch was underway with the US intelligence authorities but, declined to offer any details, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Top-level officials from the US, South Korea and Japan are due to meet this week to discuss North Korea's denuclearisation process.