(Update 1: Adds Tokyo reaction in pars 10-11, changes headline)
Seoul, Sep 13 (EFE).- North Korea tested a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, according to state media Monday, as dialogue with the United States remains stagnant.
The tests took place on Saturday and Sunday and were described as successful after the projectiles flew for more than two hours over North Korea land and waters, and reached targets about 1,500 kilometers away, KCNA said.
Unlike the ballistic missiles that the regime has also developed and tested, cruise missiles are not subject to sanctions by the United Nations Security Council, as they are considered a lower-level threat.
“The development of the long-range cruise missile, a strategic weapon of great significance in meeting the key target of the five-year plan for the development of the defence science and the weapon system set forth at the 8th Congress of the Party, has been pushed forward,” KCNA said.
It added that for the development of these new missiles, in the last two years, “detailed tests of missile parts, scores of engine ground thrust tests, various flight tests, control and guidance tests, warhead power tests, etc. were conducted with success.”
“The development of this weapon system (…) holds strategic significance of possessing another effective deterrence means for more reliably guaranteeing the security of our state and strongly containing the military maneuvers of the hostile forces against the DPRK.”
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff limited itself to saying in a statement that a detailed analysis was being carried out in close cooperation with United States intelligence services.
The US-Indo Pacific Command said that it will “continue to monitor the situation and are consulting closely with our allies and partners.”
“This activity highlights DPRK’s continuing focus on developing its military program and the threats that poses to its neighbors and the international community. The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad,” it added in a statement.
At a daily press conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that Tokyo was “extremely concerned” and that North Korean missiles with a range of 1,500km would pose a “serious threat to the peace and safety of Japan and its surrounding areas.”
He added that Tokyo will collaborate with Washington and Seoul.
Leader Kim Jong-un was not present for the launches, but they were overseen by Pak Jong-chol, appointed last week as a member of the powerful presidium of the one-party politburo, and Kim Jong-sik, deputy head of the Ministry of Machine-building Industry and one of the key figures in the North Korean missile program that Washington has on its sanctions list.
Also present was Jong Il-ho, another scientist linked to missile development who has accompanied the North Korean leader on multiple occasions during test launches.
The weapons tests came after Pyongyang hosted a low-key military parade last Thursday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the country.
The weekend’s launches were also the first carried out by the regime since March when it also tested tactical missiles. EFE