In January 2020 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that he would no longer be bound by his self-imposed moratorium on long-range missiles and nuclear tests. North Korea ended a year-long pause in ballistic tests in March with two short-range missiles into the sea, continuing a tradition of testing new US military weapons to judge Washington’s response and to force concessions.
In 2019, when Pyongyang conducted another major test of weapons, North Korea appeared to test at least five new types of missiles, mostly short-range ballistic missiles designed to avoid defense from its neighbors. On Monday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that missiles flew 1,500 kilometers in tests Saturday and Sunday and hit their intended targets before falling into North Korean territorial waters. A new long-range missile, a strategic weapon of great importance that can fly 1,400 km before hitting its target and falling into the territorial waters of the North, was a “successful test” of a new missile, said state media.
Analysts see the new missile as the first such weapon with nuclear capability. It is unclear whether the North Korean government has mastered the technology needed to build a warhead small enough to carry a cruise missile, but Kim Jong Un leader earlier this year said that developing a small bomb was a top target. The new North Korean cruise missiles are the deadliest component of North Korea’s missile arsenal, which was expanded in 2019 when Pyongyang conducted another major weapons test.
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea a successful test of a new long-range missile over the weekend conducted, the nation’s first such weapon with nuclear capabilities, analysts reported Monday. North Korea said on Monday that it had tested a new cruise missile that showed the capability to hit targets 1,500 kilometres away – its first public missile test in months as US disarmament talks with the United States have stalled. The North is developing a weapon that could bring most of Japan within striking distance, and one that can evade missile defense and deliver a nuclear bomb to large parts of the country.
North Korea said Monday it fired a newly developed long-range missile – its first missile test in six months – in a new indication that the war on the Korean peninsula between- North and South Korea is approaching a head-on. The test was North Korea’s first missile launch since testing a new short-range tactical missile in March. North Korea said over the weekend that it tested a new cruise missile in its first known test in months, showing how it is constructing its military capabilities amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.
The country conducted two cruise missile tests this year, but it has not disclosed those tests, and it has not disclosed the recently discovered cruise missile test, a South Korean defense ministry official told CNN, adding that the North is investigating whether the latest test was successful. The North asked the White House and State Department for comment. Nuclear talks with the United States have stalled following the failure of a Hanoi summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in 2019 to ease sanctions. North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test or launched an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017 and is ready to give nothing in return.
Talks with the US on denuclearization and sanctions relief have stalled for nearly two years. In March, the country defied sanctions by testing a ballistic missile, prompting sharp rebukes from the US, Japan, and South Korea. The test came a day after North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang last week to mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the state, believed to be aimed at creating national unity, foreign policy experts said.
The South Korean military, which was the first source of information on North Korea’s missile tests, said that it was analyzing the development, while Tokyo’s government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters the range of missile posed a threat to peace and security of Japan and the surrounding region. The cruise missile test could also serve as a test for US President Joe Biden who has been open to diplomacy and additional economic pressure on North Korea. A U.N. Security Council resolution does not mention cruise missile technology, but analysts say North Korea’s recent tests could get a tough United Nations response, given the missile’s possible nuclear capabilities.
Its report called the missile a “strategic weapon of great importance,” adding that if successful, it would provide both countries with effective deterrents against hostile forces. The U.S. military said the tests showed that South Korea remained focused on developing its military program, adding that their commitment to defending allies – South Korea and Japan remained steadfast. The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that it would continue to closely monitor the situation and consult with its allies and partners, including South Korea, Japan and the United States.
North Korea’s weapons tests are intended to build a nuclear and missile program to counter its claims of hostility between the US and South Korea, but they are also seen by outside analysts as a means of pressuring its political demands on leaders in Washington and Seoul. While Kotani did not mention whether Japan would acquire the ability to attack enemy bases, which could affect Sino-Japanese relations, the North Korean tests are likely to reignite a long-simmering debate about acquiring the ability to fall back on Japan’s pacifist constitution and defense-oriented policies. Kotani said the tests could feed into that debate as the race for the LDP leadership heats up.
Jeffrey Lewis of Middlebury Institute of International Studies tweeted that the missile was capable of hitting targets with a warhead in South Korea and Japan. The Japan chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said that North Korean missiles with such a range posed a serious threat to peace and security in Japan and its surroundings.