South Korea says North Korea is testing cruise missiles

South Korea says North Korea fired several cruise missiles toward the North’s eastern waters


Seoul, South Korea — North Korea fired several cruise missiles into the sea on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, three days after North Korea carried out a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea.

The launches are the North’s fourth round of weapons tests since the US and South Korean militaries began large-scale military exercises last week, which the North sees as a test for invasion.

The 11-day US-South Korean military exercise ends on Thursday. However, North Korea is expected to continue its testing activities as the US reportedly plans to send an aircraft carrier for another joint exercise with South Korea in the coming days.

South Korea’s chiefs of staff say “several” cruise missile launches have been detected from the northeastern coastal city of Hamhung. The missiles were said to have flown into northeastern waters, and South Korean and US intelligence officials are analyzing further details.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the South Korean military will maintain solid readiness and successfully complete other exercises with the United States.

UN Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from launching ballistic missiles, but not cruise missile tests. But experts say the cruise missiles developed by North Korea also pose a serious threat to its neighbors because they are designed to fly at low altitudes to avoid radar detection. The North has described the cruise missiles it recently tested as “strategic”, indicating it wants to arm them with nuclear weapons.

Capping off a record year for testing activity, the North has extended its provocative weapons shows in 2023, firing about 20 missiles at 10 separate events. Among the weapons tested were short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles capable of striking South Korea and intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to attack the US mainland.

Wednesday’s launches were the North’s first cruise missile tests since March 21, when it announced it had fired two cruise missiles from a submarine. Last month, North Korea launched four long-range cruise missiles that showed a potential range to hit targets 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday oversaw a test-fire of a short-range ballistic missile, likely launched from an underground silo. North Korean state media called the action a simulated nuclear attack on unspecified targets in South Korea.