North Korea has test-fired what it called a new type of “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend, the country’s state Korean Central News Agency reported early Monday, amid a long standoff with the United States over denuclearization.
The test launches, which took place on both Saturday and Sunday, were observed by high-level officials, KCNA said, adding that the tests had been carried out “successfully.”
The missiles traveled for 7,580 seconds along “oval and pattern-8 flight orbits” above North Korea and its territorial waters, and hit targets 1,500 kilometers (about 930 miles) away, KCNA said.
The report called the missile a “strategic weapon of great significance,” adding that “the efficiency and practicality” of the weapon system operation were “confirmed to be excellent.”
It also said the development of the missile system held “strategic significance,” giving North Korea “another effective deterrence means” for protecting the state and aiding in “strongly containing the military maneuvers of the hostile forces.”
The Pentagon did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the reported test launches, which came just a few days after a scaled-back parade in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of the country’s founding.
The North normally showcases missiles – whether real weapons or prototype models – at such parades, but this time, the biggest weapons on display were artillery pieces dragged by tractors.
The weekend missile test launches are the first by North Korea since March.
Pyongyang has not carried out a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017.
Pyongyang is under a range of international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which it continues to pursue.
Nuclear talks with the United States have been stalled since the collapse of a 2019 summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-president Donald Trump over sanctions relief – and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
Current US President Joe Biden’s North Korea envoy Sung Kim has repeatedly expressed his willingness to meet his Pyongyang counterparts “anywhere, at any time.”
But the impoverished North has never shown any indication it would be willing to surrender its nuclear arsenal and has rebuffed South Korean efforts to revive dialogue.
Last month, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency said Pyongyang appeared to have started its plutonium-producing reprocessing reactor at Yongbyon, calling it a “deeply troubling” development. Also in August, Kim’s sister and key adviser Kim Yo Jong demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula.
Last week, South Korea tested a homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missile – a technology the North has long sought to develop.
The North showed off four such devices at a military parade overseen by Kim in January, with KCNA calling them “the world’s most powerful weapon.”
But while North Korea has released pictures of underwater launches, most recently in 2019, analysts believe that was from a fixed platform or submersible barge, rather than a submarine.