North Korea Test Launched New Long-Range Cruise Missiles Striking a Target 1,500km Away
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North Korea demonstrated its military power by launching new long-range cruise missiles. This was the fourth time that North Korean engaged in provocations after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. However, experts believe the North adjusted the level of provocation and opted for cruise missiles, which are not a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea.
On September 13, the Korean Central News Agency announced, “On September 11 and 12, the Academy of National Defense Science successfully test launched new long-range cruise missiles it developed,” and reported that the cruise missiles traveled for 7,580 seconds along designated flight orbits with oval and 8-shaped patterns over territorial land and waters before striking the target 1,500km away.
The North Korean news agency said, “The test launches showed that the technical indices such as the thrust power of the newly developed turbine-blast engine, the missiles’ navigation control, and the end guided hit accuracy by the combined guided mode met the requirements of the designs,” and added, “In all, the efficiency and practicality of the weapon system operation was confirmed to be excellent.” The North Korean state media claimed that the missiles demonstrated “another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military maneuvers of the hostile forces against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” showing that the latest launches were aimed at the U.S. and South Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not present for the test launch. Instead, Pak Jong-chon, a secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea; Kim Jong-sik, deputy director of the party’s Military Industry Department; and Jon Il-ho, chairman of the party’s commission at the Academy of National Defense Science attended the test launches.
North Korea appears to have engaged in a somewhat weaker military demonstration by test launching cruise missiles, which do not violate the UN Security Council resolutions, instead of ballistic missiles. Unlike ballistic missiles, which are propelled by rockets and travel at high speeds in a parabolic trajectory showing great destructive power, cruise missiles use jet engines and fly in a relatively straight line. Cruise missiles can be easier to make precise strikes on a target, but they are slower than ballistic missiles. When North Korea launched a ballistic missile on March 25, U.S. President Joe Biden personally criticized the launch. The timing of the latest launches also drew attention, for they occurred just before a series of meetings between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan (Sep. 13-14) and ahead of a visit to South Korea by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Sep. 14-15).
The Joint Chiefs of Staff announced, “Our military is thoroughly analyzing the launches with close cooperation with U.S. intelligence authorities.” When North Korea launched a short-range cruise missile on April 14, the military authorities released the details on the very day of the launch, but this time, they did not release any information, leading to suspicions that they failed to detect prior signs of the missile launch.
Lee Jong-joo, spokesperson for the Ministry of Unification said in a regular press briefing this day, “The unification ministry will cooperate with relevant ministries, such as the defense ministry, and analyze and keep an eye on any relevant movements from North Korea.”
At the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in January, North Korea mentioned that it had developed a mid to long-range cruise missile. This was the first test launch of a long-range cruise missile following the announcement, so North Korea is expected to begin producing the missiles after a final test to determine the missiles future combat position.
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