Seoul: North Korea said February 24 it test-fired long-range cruise missiles in waters off its eastern coast a day earlier, adding to a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations as its rivals step up military training.
The US and South Korean militaries didn’t immediately confirm the North Korean launches, which state media said were intended to verify the reliability of the missiles and the rapid-response capabilities of the unit that operates those weapons.
The launches would have taken place as the United States and South Korea held a simulated military exercise in Washington aimed at sharpening their response to North Korean nuclear threats.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the exercise involved four missiles, which flew for nearly three hours after being launched from a north-eastern coastal area, drawing oval and figure-eight patterns above the sea, and showed that they can hit targets 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) away. North Korea first tested a long-range cruise missile system in September 2021 and has implied they are being developed to be armed with nuclear warheads.
It also test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile Saturday and a pair of short-range missiles Monday to demonstrate a dual ability to conduct nuclear strikes on South Korea and the US mainland.
North Korea said Monday’s short-range launches were a response to the United States flying B-1B bombers to the region for joint training with South Korean and Japanese warplanes on Sunday in a show of force following the North’s ICBM test. Prior to the ICBM launch, North Korea vowed an “unprecedentedly” strong response over a series of military drills planned by Seoul and Washington.