North Korea test-fired a new “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend, state media reported Monday, calling it a “strategic weapon of great significance” amid a long standoff with the United States over its nuclear program.
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.
The United States military said Sunday missile tests conducted by North Korea over the weekend posed ‘threats’ to the country’s neighbors and beyond.
“This activity highlights DPRK’s continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that pose to its neighbors and the international community,” the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement, using the North’s official name.
Such a weapon would represent a marked advance in the North’s weapons technology, analysts said, better able to avoid defense systems to deliver a warhead across the South or Japan.
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) 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”.
The North is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend against a US invasion.