North Korea test fires new long-range cruise missile

North Korea said it successfully test-fired “new-type, long-range” cruise missiles on Sept. 11 and 12, ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

It was the first known testing activity in months, underscoring how the country continues to expand its military capabilities amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the United States.

They flew for more than two hours over land and waters off North Korea in “pattern-8 flight orbits” and hit targets 932 miles away, the state-run media Korea Central News Agency reported. The missiles are a “strategic weapon of great significance,” it said. If the missiles flew as far as the report said, they would have a range to hit most of Japan.

Last week, North Korea staged its first military parade since Joe Biden became U.S. president, with leader Kim Jong Un presiding over an event where displays of his state’s weaponry were scaled down from previous exhibitions and did not contain any missiles.

North Korea has been building up its arsenal of ballistic missiles. This type of missiles typically flies in an arched trajectory and is unpowered on descent. Cruise missiles are powered through the entire flights that are typically at lower altitudes — and they can be launched from ground sea or air, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

South Korea’s defense ministry declined to comment on the KCNA report. The test comes as Biden’s nuclear envoy, Sung Kim, was in Asia for talks with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea.

The report on the cruise missile launches, which KCNA said included tests of a “newly developed turbine-blast engine,” came just hours before Biden’s representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, was scheduled to meet with South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo. Also, last month the United Nations atomic watchdog said Pyongyang may have resumed operations at its plutonium producing reactor at Yongbyon.

“It’s North Korea’s way of yet again reminding us that pandemic and all notwithstanding, the regime will continue to hold on to its weapons capabilities for provocation and coercive purposes,” said Soo Kim, a Rand Corp. policy analyst who previously worked at the Central Intelligence Agency.

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