North Korea says it has successfully tested a “new type” of surface-to-ship cruise missiles, which have a longer range than the missiles it already had in its inventory.
“This new-type cruise rocket is a powerful attack means capable of striking any enemy group of battleships” threatening North Korea and could be used “at will,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday.
“The launched cruise rockets accurately detected and hit the floating targets on the East Sea of Korea,” KCNA said, referring to the Sea of Japan.
The new cruise missiles had been launched on Thursday, when South Korea first detected and reported their launches.
‘A step forward’
The new cruise missiles represents a “a step forward in terms of accuracy and range,” analyst Kim Dong-yub of the Kyungnam University Institute for Far Eastern Studies told media.
The short-range missiles flew some 200 kilometers, which is an improvement of a 2015 test, when a surface-to-ship cruise missile flew only 100 kilometers, said Korea Defense Forum analyst Shin Jong-Woo.
“This is another sign of meaningful progress in the North’s efforts to diversify its missiles,” he said.
The KCNA said the weapons tested on Thursday had been showcased during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15. All of the weapons on display at the parade were tested in the past month, except for one that analysts said appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reported.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on Thursday broadened its sanctions against North Korea over its work on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The EU said it would freeze the assets of 14 more people and ban their travel to Europe in line with a United Nations Security Council resolution last week for more sanctions over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile tests.
Pyongyang is already under an array of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs.
The North has carried out numerous tests since the beginning of last year.
Pyongyang says it is developing arms as deterrence against the threat of a US invasion.
The Thursday test took place as two American aircraft carriers recently conducted naval exercises in the Sea of Japan near North Korea.
The USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan led a three-day drill, which ended on June 3, with a total of a dozen US ships participating along with two Japanese vessels.
The US has stepped up its presence in the region, with a US nuclear submarine, the 6,900-ton USS Cheyenne, also arriving in the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday.
The North says it would not abandon its missile and nuclear programs unless the US ended its hostility toward Pyongyang.