Pyongyang claimed to have successfully carried out test firing of a new long-range cruise missile, congratulating itself on having this “deterrent weapon”. The Pentagon is worried about “threats” to the international community.
According to the North Korean news agency KCNA, Pyongyang carried out on September 11 and 12 test fire of a new “long-range cruise missile”. The missiles destroyed targets located some 1,500 km from the launch site in the country’s territorial waters, said KCNA, which refers to “strategic weapons of great importance”.
“The effectiveness of this weapon system has confirmed its excellence”, greeted the state agency, celebrating a “weapon of deterrence” intended to “counter the military maneuvers of hostile forces”. Pyongyang praised the success of these test shots, arguing that they had confirmed all the technical characteristics of the new missile, including the power of its propulsion system, controllability and accuracy.
The trials come just before Sung Kim, the US special envoy for North Korea, visits Japan, where he is due to meet with South Korean and Japanese officials to discuss the issue of denuclearization of the peninsula. This Pyongyang maneuver also comes a few days after South Korea announced a test launch of a strategic sea-to-ground ballistic missile (MSBS) of its own manufacture.
For Washington, this activity underlines the “threats” of Pyongyang on its neighbors
South Korea and Japan quickly commented on the information. With caution for the South Korean army, which did not confirm these shots at first. “Our soldiers are carrying out a detailed analysis, in close cooperation with South Korean and American intelligence,” Seoul responded simply. Japan aside considered that a missile of such range “would present a threat to the peace and security of Japan and the surrounding region”. “Japan is very concerned,” government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters.
A concern echoed by Washington. “This activity underlines North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear program and the threats this poses to its neighbors and the international community,” the Pentagon reacted in a statement, in which it reiterated that its commitment to protect South Korea and Japan remained “steadfast”.
Washington has retained operational control of the South Korean military since 1954 but is expected to hand it over to Seoul next year as part of a transition plan. About 28,500 US troops are based in South Korea, while some 55,000 are stationed in Japan. According to a report published last March by theUS Government Accountability Office, the continued military presence of the United States in North Korea’s two neighboring countries cost more than $ 34 billion over the period 2016-2019 alone.
While the Biden administration had promised a “practical, calibrated approach,” with diplomatic efforts to induce North Korea to abandon its weapons program, Washington recently made Pyongyang angry by conducting new joint military exercises with Seoul.
North Korea accuses the United States of adopting a “hostile and fallacious” approach by refusing to relaunch denuclearization talks, which have now stalled. Nuclear talks have been suspended since the failure of the Hanoi summit in February 2019 between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. At the end of August, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed in a report its concern about the potential restart of a plutonium-producing reactor in the Yongbyon nuclear complex, supposed to have been shut down since early December 2018. .