North Korea successfully carried out test shots of a new “Long-range cruise missile” during the weekend, its first missile fire since March, the official KCNA news agency announced on Sunday (September 12th).
Its last shots, in March in the Sea of Japan, in violation of UN resolutions, had been interpreted as a sign of challenge to the administration of US President Joe Biden, in place since January. The new test shots on Saturday and Sunday were attended by senior North Korean officials, according to the agency, which says the tests were successful.
The missiles traveled a path of 1,500 kilometers, before reaching their target, not specified by KCNA, which celebrates “Strategic weapons of great importance”. “The efficiency of this weapon system has confirmed its excellence”, praises the official agency, celebrating a “Deterrent weapon” destined to “Counter the military maneuvers of hostile forces”.
Contradicted signs of goodwill
The announcement comes days after South Korea announced a test firing of a strategic sea-to-surface ballistic missile (MSBS) of its own manufacture. North Korea had nevertheless given signs of goodwill, with last week a parade of tractors and fire trucks rather than the usual tanks and missiles, for its third parade in less than a year, at the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the northern peninsula.
Pyongyang has used military parades on several occasions in the past to send messages abroad and to its own people, usually on certain birthdays. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from pursuing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
But, despite being hit by multiple international sanctions, this country has rapidly developed its military capabilities in recent years under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. North Korea has carried out several nuclear tests and successfully tested ballistic missiles capable of reach the United States.
Reaching hand of the Biden administration
“This activity highlights North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear program and the threats this poses to its neighbors and the international community.”, reacted Sunday evening the Pentagon in a press release.
Nuclear talks with Washington have been suspended since the failure of the Hanoi summit in February 2019 between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. Current US President Joe Biden’s representative for North Korea has repeatedly expressed his willingness to meet with his North Korean counterparts ” anywhere anytime “. The Biden administration has promised a “Practical, calibrated approach”, with diplomatic efforts to induce Pyongyang to abandon its weapons program, which North Korea has never been ready to do.
At the end of August, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported “Signs” indicating that North Korea appeared to have restarted its plutonium-producing reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. The IAEA had estimated that the signs of reactor operation were “Deeply disturbing”.