SEOUL—North Korean leader
Kim Jong Un
guided the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles on Wednesday, state media said, the latest of a recent barrage of weapons tests.
Mr. Kim stressed that the test was a “clear warning to the enemies,” demonstrating the combat capacity of North Korea’s war deterrent, according to a Thursday state media report.
The missiles flew for nearly three hours to hit a target about 1,240 miles away, state media said. The South Korean military didn’t alert on the launch, as cruise missiles are typically considered part of regular military exercises rather than provocations. This was North Korea’s 26th missile launch this year, the most it has tested in a year.
Mr. Kim stressed that the country should “focus all efforts on the endless and accelerating development of the national nuclear combat armed forces,” according to state media.
Cruise missiles aren’t covered by United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang’s weapons activity. Cruise missiles generally fly at lower altitudes and travel shorter distances compared with ballistic missiles, which U.N. resolutions bar the country from launching.
The latest missile launch follows two weeks of military drills overseen by Mr. Kim, including missile tests that simulated tactical nuclear strikes against the U.S. and South Korea, state media reported on Monday.
North Korean state media had stayed relatively quiet about its recent flurry of missile tests. Over the weekend, Pyongyang defended its recent tests as a “righteous reaction” to military drills by Washington, Tokyo and Seoul. On Monday, celebrating the foundation of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party, North Korea categorized its recent launches as rehearsals for tactical nuclear weapon strikes, as Mr. Kim said the country had no interest in “dialogue with the enemies.”
On Wednesday, North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. lashed out at the U.S. for aggravating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. He called on the U.S. to suspend its joint military exercises with South Korea and defended North Korea’s weapons development as a self-defense measure to counter “heinous” hostility, addressing the U.N. General Assembly.
North Korea last fired cruise missiles in August after declaring victory over its first nationwide Covid-19 outbreak. In recent months, the Kim regime has repeatedly said they have no interest in dialogue with Washington or Seoul.
North Korea has conducted several provocative exercises this year, including testing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and sending an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time since 2017. Washington and Seoul officials have also said Pyongyang has completed preparations for its seventh nuclear test.
Write to Dasl Yoon at [email protected]
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