Tests announced as officials from the US, South Korea and Japan meet to discuss how to revive denuclearisation talks.
North Korea says it carried out a series of successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, as the country continues to expand its military capabilities amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States
The Korean Central News Agency said on Monday the cruise missiles, which had been under development for two years, successfully hit targets 1,500 km (930 miles) away on Saturday and Sunday.
The North hailed its new weapons as a “strategic weapon of great significance” that meets leader Kim Jong Un’s call to strengthen the country’s military might. The South Korean military did not immediately confirm the North Korean tests.
Pyongyang’s last known missile test was in March when it launched a new tactical short-range ballistic missile. It also conducted a cruise missile test just hours after US President Joe Biden took office in late January.
The latest test highlighted the continued expansion of the country’s weapons programme since talks with the US to dismantle the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes stalled in 2019.
Rodong Sinmun, the ruling Workers’ Party’s official newspaper, ran photos of the new long-range cruise missile in the air and being fired from a transporter-erector-launcher.
The missile is a strategic weapon that has been developed over the past two years and a key element of a five-year plan outlined in January to advance defence science and arsenals, KCNA said.
“Detailed tests of missile parts, scores of engine ground thrust tests, various flight tests, control and guidance tests, warhead power tests etc were conducted with success,” it said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not appear to have attended the test, with KCNA saying Pak Jong Chon, a member of the Workers’ Party’s powerful politburo and a secretary of its central committee, oversaw it.
The test announcement comes just a day before chief nuclear negotiators from the United States, South Korea and Japan meet in Tokyo to explore ways to break the deadlock with North Korea.
China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, is also scheduled to visit Seoul on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart, Chung Eui-yong.
Biden’s administration has said it is open to diplomacy to achieve North Korea’s denuclearisation, but has shown no willingness to ease sanctions.