Jan 25, 2024 08:02 UTC
  • North Korea says tested new cruise missile, assures neighbors of no impact on their security

North Korea says it has tested a new type of strategic cruise missile, assuring neighbors that the test-firing has no impact on the security of neighboring countries.

The state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Thursday that Pyongyang tested “Pulhwasal-3-31,” meaning “blaze arrow” the day before. It described it as a strategic cruise missile, implying it could be armed with nuclear weapons.

“The test-fire had no impact on the security of neighboring countries and has nothing to do with the regional situation,” KCNA said as it did not specify how many missiles were fired.

The Pulhwasal-3-31 missile is still in its development phase and was also part of the process of updating the country's weapon system, KCNA reported, citing the missile administration.

“The range was not short, and it was presumed to have been launched from the ground,” South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified source, reported, speculating that the cruise missiles were likely type Hwasal-1 or Hwasal-2, which are capable of carrying the North's compact Hwasan-31 nuclear warhead.

The announcement came a day after South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it had detected the launch of “several” cruise missiles from North Korea’s western coast, while Seoul's defense minister, Shin Won-Sik, condemned the launches as a serious threat to his country.

The JCS said it was analyzing the launch, as it believed the firing was to test upgrades of existing missiles' capabilities. North Korea carried out its first test of a strategic cruise missile in September 2021.

Pyongyang has repeatedly test-fired “Hwasal” cruise missiles since last year. The weapon is reportedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and flying at low altitudes for long periods.

The missile is harder to detect and intercept than ballistic missiles.

North Korea says they are nuclear-capable and have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) before hitting preset targets, a distance that would include US military bases in Japan.

Last week, North Korea said it had tested an underwater nuclear weapons system under development in response to the latest 10-day joint maritime exercise involving South Korea, the United States and Japan.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un has repeatedly said his government is building up its military arsenal in preparation for potential war by the West that could “break out at any time” on the peninsula.

Pyongyang has previously warned that the US is increasing provocations of a “nuclear war” by deploying nuclear-capable bombers to the region.