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North Korea claims to have fired nuclear-capable cruise missiles

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles, North Korean state media reported on Thursday, calling it a test to confirm reliability. and the operation of nuclear-capable weapons deployed in their military units.

The test firing, which was carried out on Wednesday, was aimed at “improving the effectiveness and combat power” of cruise missiles deployed in the Korean People’s Army “for the operation of tactical nuclear weapons,” he said. the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Stressing that the test launch is another clear warning to his “enemies,” leader Kim Jong Un said the country “must continue to expand the operational sphere of the strategic nuclear armed forces to resolutely deter any crucial military crisis and war crisis in any time and completely take the initiative in it,” according to KCNA.

On Monday, the KCNA said that Kim has led nuclear tactical exercises targeting South Korea for the past two weeks, protesting recent joint naval exercises by South Korean and US forces involving an aircraft carrier.

The KCNA reported that the two missiles tested on Wednesday flew for 10,234 seconds and “clearly hit the target 2,000 km away.”

A US State Department spokesman declined to comment on the launches, saying Washington remains focused on coordinating closely with allies and partners to deal with threats posed by North Korea.

North Korea first tested a “strategic” cruise missile in September 2021, which analysts then viewed as the nuclear-capable country’s possible first such weapon.

Wednesday’s test confirms that nuclear function and operability, though it is unclear whether North Korea can build warheads small enough for a cruise missile.

The cruise missiles are part of a series of smaller weapons recently developed by North Korea to fly low and maneuver to better evade missile defenses.

Kim said last year that developing smaller warheads is a primary goal. Seoul officials have said that if the North resumes nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, the development of smaller devices could be among its goals.

North Korea’s cruise missiles typically generate less interest than ballistic missiles, as they are not explicitly prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions.

Cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles that can be armed with conventional or nuclear warheads are particularly destabilizing in the event of a conflict, as it may not be clear what type of warhead they carry, analysts said.

The North’s development of new types of nuclear weapons has renewed calls by some in South Korea for the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn in 1991, or for Seoul to abandon the Non-Proliferation Treaty. and develop your own arsenal.

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