North Korea tests long-range strategic cruise missiles: state media

North Korea tests long-range strategic cruise missiles: state media


North Korea has tested a pair of long-range strategic cruise missiles and leader Kim Jong Un has welcomed another successful demonstration of the country’s tactical nuclear strike capability, state media reported Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of provocative weapons tests that have seen tensions soar on the Korean Peninsula — and fueled fears that Pyongyang could conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

Kim personally oversaw testing of the missiles Wednesday, which flew 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) over the sea, the Korean Central News Agency said. It said the projectiles hit their intended targets but didn’t specify which ones.

The North Korean leader expressed “great satisfaction” with the tests aimed at increasing the combat effectiveness of the missiles “used by the Korean People’s Army units for tactical nuclear weapons operation,” KCNA said.

North Korea said this week its latest missile tests included “tactical nuclear exercises” to simulate an attack on the south.

Kim said after Wednesday’s tests that North Korea must “expand the operational area of ??strategic nuclear forces,” KCNA said.

“Kim Jong Un stressed that we should focus all efforts on the endless and accelerating development of national nuclear forces,” it said.

Kim made acquiring tactical nuclear weapons — smaller, lighter weapons designed for use on the battlefield — a top priority at a key party convention in January 2021, and vowed this year to build North Korea’s nuclear forces as quickly as possible.

– military exercises –

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

Since then, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have intensified combined military exercises, including twice deploying a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the region, infuriating Pyongyang, which sees such exercises as rehearsals for an invasion.

In response, “North Korea decided to organize military exercises under the simulation of an actual war” that hit South Korea’s ports, airports and military command facilities, KCNA said Monday.

North Korean army units involved in “the tactical nuclear weapons operation” conducted military exercises from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9 to test and assess war deterrence and nuclear counterattack capability, the agency said.

Kim also oversaw those tests, it said.

That report also said that North Korea’s Oct. 4 missile launch, which overflyed Japan and triggered infrequent evacuation alerts, included a “novel medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile.”

The plethora of KCNA statements on the country’s recent tests — which is unusual as state media no longer routinely comment on launches — shows Pyongyang is concerned about recent US-led joint exercises, analysts say.

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