The tests were carried out over the course of two days, on Saturday and on Sunday, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. As part of the tests, the missiles destroyed targets some 1,500 km (930 miles) away from the launch site and fell into the country’s territorial waters.
Pyongyang hailed the tests as success, claiming that the launch has confirmed all the technical features of the new weapon, including the power of its propulsion system, the missile’s controllability and its accuracy.
The missile is designed to serve as yet another “effective deterrence means” to “ensure the security” of the country, while “strongly suppressing the military movements of hostile forces”, according to the KCNA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly did not oversee the launch. Instead, an array of high-profile party and military officials were present at the tests.
The tests of what has been touted as a brand-new weapon come on the eve of US special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim’s visit to Japan next week, where he is set to meet with South Korean and Japanese officials to discuss the denuclearization issue.
Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened to resume testing of long-range missiles after denuclearization talks with former US President Donald Trump fell through. The negotiations stalled after Washington refused to offer partial relief of sanctions, demanding Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear program first.
The soured relations did not warm up under the President Joe Biden administration, despite its declared efforts to meet North Korean officials at any place and time. North Korea has spoken dismissively about diplomatic advances on part of Washington, demanding the US reverses its “hostile policy” as a starter.
The new long-range missile that was test-fired by North Korea over the weekend did not reach Japan’s airspace or territorial waters and did not enter its exclusive economic zone, the NHK broadcaster reports citing government sources.
NHK said citing military sources on Monday that with such a range, the new type of missile appears to be capable of reaching Tokyo.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters on Monday that the Japanese government is concerned about the new test launch, since, if the 1,500-kilometer range is proved to be correct, it poses a threat to regional security and global stability.
Kato added that Japan is closely cooperating with the US and South Korea on the issue of North Korean military activity.
Earlier, the Pentagon announced that it was aware of reports on North Korea’s cruise missile test launches and warned that such activity is a threat to Pyongyang’s neighbours and the international community.