North Korea missile tests: North Korea test-fires long-range cruise missiles, US says it poses considerable threat

North Korea missile tests: The missiles called "strategic weapon of great significance" will reportedly give North Korea "another effective deterrence means" against "hostile forces", as per the local media. 

Created On: Sep 13, 2021 13:56 IST
North Korea test-fires long-range cruise missiles despite US sanctions, Source: Korean Central News Agency
North Korea test-fires long-range cruise missiles despite US sanctions, Source: Korean Central News Agency

North Korea missile tests: North Korea test-fired a new "long-range cruise missile" over the weekend amid International sanctions and standoff with the United States over its nuclear programme. The local media confirmed the news on September 13, calling it a strategic weapon of great significancs that is capable of hitting Japan.

The pictures that were released after the missile test showed a missile being fired from a launch vehicle and another in horizontal flight. As per analysts, the missile could represent a marked advance in the North's weapons technology and enable it to better avoid defence systems to deliver a warhead across the South or Japan.

As per the official Korean Central News Agency, the missiles travelled about 1,500-kilometre flight paths. The test launches took place on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Key Details 

•The missiles travelled in a figure-of-8 pattern above North Korea and its territorial waters to hit their targets.

•The missiles called "strategic weapon of great significance" will reportedly give the country "another effective deterrence means" against "hostile forces", as per media. 

•North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes amid standoff with the United States. The UN Security Council sanctions forbid the nation from testing ballistic missiles. 

•North Korea has not carried out a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017. It is, however, not banned from developing cruise missiles. It has tested cruise missiles previously as well. 

Basic difference between ballistic missile and cruise missile

The UNSC considers ballistic missiles to be more threatening than cruise missiles as they have a much longer ranger, can fly faster and carry bigger and more powerful payloads. 

While a ballistic missile is powered by a rocket and follows an arc-like trajectory, a cruise missile is powered by a jet engine and flies at a lower height.

North Korea missile test poses considerable threat to neighbors: US

The United States said that the North Korea missile test poses 'threats to neighbors and beyond'. The US Indo-Pacific Command said in an official statement, "This activity highlights DPRK's continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbors and the international community."

The missile was the country's first long-range cruise missile that could possibly carry a nuclear warhead. According to a professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Woman's University, PC, the missile "poses a considerable threat". He said that if the North has sufficiently miniaturised a nuclear warhead, it can be loaded onto a cruise missile as well. He continued by saying that the North is likely to conduct more tests for the development of various weapons systems.

Is North Korea trying to provoke the US?

The missile tests were reportedly in response to joint South Korea-US military drills last month. As per Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, the missiles would be capable of delivering a warhead against targets "throughout South Korea and Japan". The new missile system is designed to fly under the missile defence radars and around them. 

According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, their military is conducting a detailed analysis under close cooperation between the South Korean and US intelligence agencies. The launches were the first since March 2021. 

Background

The talks between North Korea and the United States have been on a standstill since the failure of the 2019 summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-president Donald Trump over US sanctions relief. North Korea is nowhere ready to surrender its nuclear arsenal, one of the key demands of the US. It has also turned down South Korea's efforts to revive dialogue. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last month that North Korea appears to have restarted the operation of its main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon and that it was "deeply troubled" by the indications. The 5-megawatt reactor is widely believed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. 

South Korea also recently tested a homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missile, which is a technology that the North has long aimed to develop.

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