Published:  10:57 AM, 13 September 2021

North Korea test-fires new 'long-range cruise missile': KCNA

North Korea test-fires new 'long-range cruise missile': KCNA

North Korea test-fired a new "long-range
cruise missile" over the weekend, state media reported Monday, with the
United States saying the nuclear-armed country was threatening its neighbours
and beyond.

  Pictures in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a missile exiting one of
five tubes on a launch vehicle in a ball of flame, and a missile in
horizontal flight.

  Such a weapon would represent a marked advance in North Korea's weapons
technology, analysts said, better able to avoid defence systems to deliver a
warhead across the South or Japan -- both of them US allies.

  The test launches took place on Saturday and Sunday, the official Korean
Central News Agency said.

  The missiles travelled 1,500-kilometre (about 930 miles), two-hour flight
paths -- including figure-of-8 patterns -- above North Korea and its
territorial waters to hit their targets, according to KCNA.

  Its report called the missile a "strategic weapon of great significance",
adding the tests were successful and it gave the country "another effective
deterrence means" against "hostile forces".

  North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and
ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend against a US

  But Pyongyang is not banned from developing cruise missiles, which it has
tested previously.

  As described, the missile "poses a considerable threat", Park Won-gon,
professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University, told AFP.

  "If the North has sufficiently miniaturised a nuclear warhead, it can be
loaded onto a cruise missile as well," Park said.

  "It's very likely that there will be more tests for the development of
various weapons systems."

  The launch was a response to joint South Korea-US military drills last
month, he said.

  But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due in Seoul on Tuesday and Park
added: "By choosing cruise missiles, North Korea is trying not to provoke the
US and China too much."

  Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies tweeted
that the reported missiles would be capable of delivering a warhead against
targets "throughout South Korea and Japan".

  "An intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious
capability for North Korea," he added.

  "This is another system that is designed to fly under missile defense
radars or around them."

  The South Korean military -- normally the first source of information on
the North's missile tests -- had made no announcement of any launches over
the weekend.

  They said they were analysing developments.

  In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the reports highlighted
North Korea's "continuing focus on developing its military programme and the
threats that poses to its neighbours and the international community".

  It reiterated that the US commitment to defend South Korea -- where it
stations around 28,500 troops to protect it against its neighbour -- and
Japan "remains ironclad".

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