North Korea experiences long-range cruise missile take a look at because the arms race intensifies

SEOUL – North Korea said Monday it had successfully launched newly developed long-range cruise missiles, its first missile test in six months and a new indication that an arms race between North and South Korea is intensifying in the Korean peninsula.

In the tests, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, the North Korean missiles hit targets 1,500 kilometers away after more than two hours of flight, said the official Korean Central News Agency of the North. The missiles changed their trajectory and made circles before hitting their targets, it said.

A number of United Nations Security Council resolutions banned North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles, but not cruise missiles. A northern cruise missile test usually doesn’t raise as much alarm as its ballistic missile tests. The country’s state media also stated that the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, did not take part in the weekend tests, although he has usually overseen all major weapon tests in recent years.

Recent tests showed North Korea continued to improve its missile arsenal while talks with the US on nuclear disarmament stalled. North Korea said Monday the long-range cruise missile was “a strategic weapon of great importance” and part of an arms development target announced by Kim during the party convention in January.

According to state media announcements, the new missiles provided North Korea with yet another powerful deterrent against “military maneuvers by enemy forces”.

South Korea and the US held a nine-day joint military exercise in August. Joint exercises by the two allies have often prompted North Korea to conduct its own military exercises or weapons tests. The North’s tests also came amid signs that South Korea was rapidly stepping up its own armament.

South Korea successfully tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile this month. Although its officials refused to divulge details, local media reported that the SLBM was launched from the country’s newly built Dosan Ahn Changho-class attack submarine. North Korea began testing its submarine-launched ballistic missiles in 2015 and reported “greatest success” the following year.

With international negotiations making little progress to prevent North Korea from expanding its arsenal, South Korea has begun building stronger missiles and anti-missile defense systems of its own to counter the North Korean threats.

In recent years, the United States has relaxed so-called missile guidelines, which limited the range and warhead weight of ballistic missiles that South Korea was allowed to develop. After North Korea launched its first ICBM in 2017, then-President Donald J. Trump lifted the payload limit for South Korean ballistic missiles. During the May summit between President Biden and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, the allies agreed to lift missile guidelines and give South Korea the freedom to develop long-range missiles.

North Korea reacted angrily to the lifting of the missile restrictions, calling it “a powerful reminder of hostile US policies”.

The lifting of restrictions will allow South Korea to build ballistic missiles with larger warheads that have destructive power and can attack underground bunkers where North Korea holds its nuclear arsenal and where its leadership would hide in the war, military analysts said.

When Mr. Moon visited his Department of Defense’s Defense Development Agency last year, he said South Korea had “developed a short-range ballistic missile with one of the largest warheads in the world,” an obvious reference to the Hyunmoo-4 that missile experts say is all of North Korea with a two-ton payload.

When North Korea last conducted a missile test on March 25, it said it had fired a new ballistic missile with a 2.5-ton warhead. This month, reports surfaced in South Korean news media that the South is developing an even more powerful weapon: a short-range ballistic missile with a payload of up to three tons.

The upgrading of tit-for-tat weapons signaled that the rival military were armed with increasingly powerful missiles that could fly farther and carry more destructive power and that were harder to intercept.

“We will develop stronger, longer-range and more precise missiles to act as a deterrent and to achieve security and peace in the Korean peninsula,” the South Defense Ministry said earlier this month.

North Korea announced its latest missile tests two days before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s scheduled meeting with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations and stall talks on nuclear disarmament.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula soared in 2017 when North Korea tested three ICBMs and conducted its sixth underground nuclear test, resulting in United Nations sanctions. After the tests, the country claimed it could attack the continental United States with a nuclear warhead.

Mr Trump met with Mr Kim three times between 2018 and 2019, but the two leaders failed to reach an agreement on sanctions and the north’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea apparently unveiled newly developed ICBMs and submarines at military parades last October and January. The United Nations nuclear watchdog said last month that the country appears to have restarted a reactor at its main nuclear complex.

But North Korea has not tested ICBMs or nuclear bombs since 2017. His last military parade, held on Thursday for the government’s 73rd anniversary, showed no new weapons.

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