Image: North Korean state media announced a new cruise missile test-fire – Photo: REUTERS/KCNA
The missile test took place on September 11 and 12, just a few days after the National Day of North Korea. Experts say North Korea’s newly revealed weapon resembles the US’ Tomahawk long-range cruise missile and South Korea’s Hyunmoo-3C.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the cruise missiles “traveled for 7,580 seconds following an oval and figure-eight flight trajectory in the Korean airspace. The missile then “hit the target” 1,500km away”.
The AFP news agency quoted observers as saying that this is a clear step forward in North Korea’s weapons technology. The new missile is said to be able to evade the defense systems of South Korea and Japan.
Researcher Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (USA) said that the new type of missile is a serious threat.
“This missile system is designed to fly under the radar scan range or circle to avoid being shot down,” Lewis was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
Professor Park Won Gon – who specializes in North Korea research – said that this move is North Korea’s way of showing off its military might to the US and South Korea while keeping the situation under control.
Pyongyang’s choice of cruise missiles over ballistic missiles may be due to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s arrival in South Korea on September 14, Park said.
Ballistic missiles have a longer range and travel faster than cruise missiles of the same size, according to Yonhap News Agency. However, cruise missiles still pose a significant threat because they do not follow a fixed trajectory and fly at low altitudes, making them difficult to detect.
According to experts, cruise missiles can also carry nuclear warheads. “If North Korea is able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, it will most likely mount it on a cruise missile,” Park said.
South Korea’s Hyunmoo-3C cruise missile – Photo: MISSILE THREAT . PROJECT
America – Japan – Korea passive?
Shortly after North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported, the US Indo-Pacific Command called the missile test a threat to the region and the world.
“We are aware of North Korea’s cruise missile launch. We will continue to monitor the situation and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. The United States’ commitment to defending Japan will continue,” he said. and South Korea remains certain,” the US military stressed.
In a statement on September 13, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu said the Japanese government was “concerned” by reports that North Korea had successfully tested a long-range cruise missile. According to Kato, Japan will continue to work closely with the US and South Korea to monitor the situation.
Earlier, South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the military was conducting an in-depth analysis with support from US intelligence agencies.
JCS declined to confirm details, including where the test was conducted and whether it detected the launches in advance.
North Korea’s test-firing took place over the weekend, but the failure of the US and its allies to speak up immediately sparked speculation that their systems failed to detect the incident.
Pyongyang’s test of a new cruise missile is also said to be aimed at sending a message to the meeting between US, Japan and South Korean officials in charge of North Korea’s denuclearization. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Tokyo (Japan) from September 13 to 15.